Agriculture

Bayelsa farmers count losses as herdsmen’s cattle invade farms

***They chase us with cows when contronted, farmers lament

Kukwezi Aigbe

Despite the passing into law of the Bayelsa State Livestock Breeding and Marketing Regulation Bill 2021, on March 10, 2021, herdsmen’s incursion into farms in the state capital has continued unabated.

Presently, farmers along the Tombia Amassoma Road in Okutukutu Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital are counting their losses following the destruction of their farms by cattle.

In separate interviews with newsmen in Yenagoa, the state capital, the farmers called on the Bayelsa Government to urgently intervene to forestall an impending conflict, tasking the Governor Douyi Diri-led administration to properly enforce the anti-open grazing law already existing in the state.

Recalled that the Bayelsa State Livestock Breeding and Marketing Regulation Bill 2021 became a law on March 10th, 2021 after Governor Douyi Diri assented to it.

The law prohibits open grazing in the State and confined herders and cattle owners to a space at the popular Bayelsa Palm Road, Yenagoa.

Consequently, the State Government set up an anti-open grazing taskforce to enforce the law.

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However, herders are still seen breeding their cattle outside areas allocated to them, hence, leading to a confrontation with farmers.

Lamenting the destruction of her farm by the herds of cattle, an elderly widow of about 65/75 years, Mr. Patience Obein, asked how she would survive having lost all her cassava farm to the cows.

She said, “When I came to my farm this morning I just saw that all my cassava has been uprooted and damaged, cassava that I have been farming for some time now, the herders just allow the cows to invade the farm and eat them up the night when people were sleeping. I don’t even know what to say now, all my labour is in vain.

A widow, Mrs. Martha JohnPerry, while expressing her frustration, said her only source of livelihood was the farm that has now been destroyed by the cattle, calling on the state government to come to her aid.

“The way the cows eat the farm, there is nothing left on the farm again for me to uproot. Now, they have left me in hunger. Government should tell the herders to go back to their place, we don’t want their cow so we can harvest what we sow.”

Another farmer, Mr. Bernard England, urged the anti-opening grazing enforcement taskforce in the state to wake up to its duties to forestall the incessant destruction of their farms.

“I want the government to help tell the task force to leave up to their task, they should be able to come to the bush and make sure these herdsmen and their cows leave the environment. The task force created by the government is not doing anything about it, they just sat in the offices. Let the state government come and intercede for us”

A couple, Mr. George Bouye and Mrs. Success Bouye narrated how they approached the vigilante group in the area and confronted the herders after finding out the level of destruction in their farms.

They said the cattle have repeatedly invaded their farms, mostly at the hours of 10 pm and 12 midnight.

The husband said, “Immediately we went inside after farming, they quickly put off their torchlights. This is between 10 pm and 12 midnight. These men used their cows to eat up the cassava, uproot the cassava, destroy the potato and plantain on the farms.

“This morning we went to invite the Vigilante group in the area and narrated our ordeal so they went with us to see the herders but they took refuge in the middles of the herds of cattle and ask the cows to attack us and we and the vigilante men ran for our lives.

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