The All Farmers Association of Nigeria, AFAN, Abia State Chapter, has called for the payment of compensation to farmers in the state whose farm fields were destroyed by cattle.
The Chairman of the association, Dunlop Okoro, made the call on Thursday in an interview in Umuahia.
Mr. Okoro’s demand followed the destruction of farm fields in some parts of Abia by cattle.
He said that the call became necessary due to the extent of the destruction, which, he said, had brought untold hardship to victims who were basically rural dwellers.
Mr. Okoro identified the affected communities as those in Arochukwu, Isiukwato, Ohafia and Bende Local Government Areas. He said that such incidents had become endemic.
“I think every effort by the state government in handling the situation has not yielded any result,” he said.
The chairman said that he feared a possible outbreak of epidemic in the rural communities affected by the menace.
He said the cattle swim in and mess up the streams that serve as sources of drinking water to the people.
“And when they now start moving out they can pull down so many things in the farm. “You need to go to a farm where these cattle passed through and find out that it’s just like where a bulldozer passed.”
Mr. Okoro said that all efforts to get the herdsmen to conduct their activities in a way that would ensure peaceful co-existence with their host communities had failed. The AFAN chairman recalled that the state Ministry of Agriculture sometime ago commenced negotiation between farmers and herdsmen with their principals who came from all corners of the country.
He said such negotiations had yet to produce any meaningful result. He said that the affected farmers had been left to rue their plight without any form of assistance from any quarters.
“We have been doing our best pleading with them not to take laws into their hands and I don’t know how long we shall continue to do that,” he said.
Mr. Okoro appealed to the state government fast track the delineation of grazing reserves and stock routes in the state to put an end to the menace.
The association had during the 2011 farming season, raised similar concern over the destruction of crops worth millions of naira.