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Bayelsa farmers lament destruction of farmlands by cattle

Farmers in Ekpetiama Kingdom in Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa on Wednesday appealed to security agencies to prevail on herdsmen who lead cattle to graze in the area to desist from the act.

Farmers, community leaders and inhabitants of the kingdom decried the activities of some of the herdsmen who are unable to control their herds of cattle which ravage crops.

They appealed to the authorities to wade into the matter in order to prevent any breakdown of law and order.

Ekpetiama Kingdom comprises seven towns situated along the banks of the River Nun and several tributaries connecting the River Niger and the Atlantic Ocean.

These towns are Gbarantoru, Tombia, Agudama, Akaibiri, Boumondi Gbene and Ikibiri.

It was gathered that the communities engage in dry season farming planting crops such as cassava, water yam, potato and plantain.

However, there are conflicts between farmers and herdsmen leading cattle to graze in the area, with locals alleging that their farms and crops are often destroyed in the process.

The monarch of Ekpetiama Kingdom, King Bubraye Dakolo urged the government and security agencies to look into the plight of his people, calling for urgent measures to address the situation before it degenerates.

“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,” he said.

“It could spark some clash someday between farmers and herdsmen,” Dakolo said.

A farmer based in Tombia community, Mrs Ibomo Odigi who narrated her experience observed that the impact of uncontrolled grazing had taken a negative toll on food production.

“These herds of cattle they brought here, they have destroyed all our water yam, cassava.

“Some of the herdsmen are even armed with guns. They 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,” she said.

Another farmer from Agudama,Yenagoa LGA Mrs Preye Kala-Okpoya said: “Last month, they invaded my farm and destroyed everything.

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

Mr Alagoa Morris, Head of Field Operations at the Environmental Rights Action, said that timely intervention by relevant authorities would avert any imminent danger.