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Millions lost as rat hunters set fire to palm plantation in Plateau

By Marie-Therese Nanlong

Jos—TEN hectares of oil palm plantation as well as other economic trees worth millions of Naira in Sabongida village, Langtang South Local Government Area of Plateau State, have been lost to fire set by rats hunters.

The plantation, which has been in existence in for 10 years, with 4,000 seedlings of oil palm trees, could not be salvaged as there was no fire service station in that local government area.

Apart from the oil palm seedlings, other economic trees lost included cashew and mango trees, a situation which has resulted in loss of huge investment and jobs to the owner and employees.

The plantation owner, Dr. Nandul Durfa, who was happy no life was lost in the incident, described the loss as monumental, lamenting that he had no insurance for the farm.

He said: “Some of these boys that were hunting rats set the whole place ablaze and we are trying to see what we can do. It is about 10 hectares of oil palm tree plantation.

“A substantial amount was invested in the farm, because it was established over 10 years ago. I bought each plant at N350 and they were 4,000 seedlings.

“I spent money on cultivation, weeding, treatment and other things. The amount is huge and my foolishness is that I did not insure the farm. I was putting the whole thing on my shoulder; it is sad.

“I am the one telling our microfinance bank to get insurance for their farms. My farm was not the target as the fire started somewhere else and spread to my farm; the good thing is that nobody died.”

Meanwhile, the Head of the State Fire Service, Michael Dung, who said he was not aware of any such incident, promised to get in touch with his station at Shendam Local Government, which is closer to Langtang South, to know if such incident was reported.

He urged residents to be careful about how they handle fire, especially during this dry season, with its attendant harsh weather conditions.



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