Farmers/Herdsmen Crisis Looming In Bayelsa State


Farmers in Bayelsa State have called on security agencies to be proactive in their actions in order to prevent a looming crisis with herdsmen who they claim have continued to destroy their farmlands.

Bubraye Dakolo, the traditional ruler of Ekpetiama Kingdom, in Yenagoa Local Government Area of the state, made the call on Wednesday, saying that the situation was getting out of hand.

Ekpetiama Kingdom is made up of seven towns situated along the banks of the River Nun and several streams flowing into the River Niger and the Atlantic Ocean.

The towns include Gbarantoru, Tombia, Agudama, Akaibiri, Boumondi, Gbene and Ikibiri.

Residents of the communities usually engage in dry season farming, planting crops such as cassava, water yam, potato and plantain.

However, the locals have complained recently of the threats posed to their farming activities by herdsmen.

Dakolo called on the state government as well as security agencies to look into the plight of his people and address the situation before it degenerates.

He said: “What is happening now is a recipe for disaster. It is very difficult to watch your crops which are doing well being eaten up by cows.

“Imagine your one hectare of land you have managed to till at a great cost in terms of money, sweat and energy is now being devoured by some animals.

“So, you go and plant water yams, cassava and plantain, by the time you realize it, they have been devoured. It could spark some clash someday between farmers and herdsmen.”

One of the farmers in Tombia community, Ibomo Odigi, narrated her sad experience to newsmen, saying that the situation had taken a negative toll on food production.

“These herds of cattle they brought here, they have destroyed all our water yam (and) cassava,” she said.

“Some of the herdsmen are even armed with guns.

“They (government) said everybody should go to farm and that is what we have done but these cattle have eaten everything.

“One woman is lying critically ill at the Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital with high blood Pressure after her crops were destroyed,” Odigi lamented.

Preye Kala-Okpoya, a farmer from Agudama community, said that the herdsmen invaded her farm last month and destroyed everything.

“Last year, the same thing happened in my farm and when I went to look at it, I saw their guns hidden there,” she said.

An environmental activist, Alagoa Morris, called for timely intervention by relevant authorities in order to avoid breakdown of law and order.



    He said: “These incidents might escalate into violence if nothing is done and we don’t want violence.

    “The herdsmen are not in total control of their cattle which veer off to eat crops and plants in farmlands rather that feed on grasses.

    “The relationship between the farmers and herdsmen is getting to the level where it is no longer healthy.

    “We think the government should come in to ensure that anything that would lead to bloodshed is averted. It should be live and let live.”

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