A cattle rustler

A cattle rustler

Farmers and community leaders in Ekpetiama Kingdom in Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa have decried the destruction of their crops by uncontrolled cattle.

The farmers on Wednesday in Yenagoa appealed to the relevant authorities to wade into the matter to save their farms and prevent the breakdown of law and order.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Ekpetiama Kingdom comprises seven towns situated on 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.

The communities engage in dry season planting of cassava, water yam, potato and plantain, among others.

Members of the community allege that herdsmen leading cattle to graze in the area are not in total control of the animals, causing ravaging of their crops by the cattle.

The Monarch of Ekpetiama Kingdom, King Bubraye Dakolo, urged the state government and security agencies to look into the situation to maintain peace.

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

“You plant water yam, cassava and plantain, and by the time you realize it, they have been devoured.

“It could spark some clashes someday between farmers and herdsmen,” Dakolo warned.

A farmer based in Tombia Community, Mrs. Ibomo Odigi, told NAN that the impact of uncontrolled grazing had taken a negative toll on food production in the community.

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

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

“Some of the herdsmen are even armed with guns.

“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, Mrs. Preye Kala-Okpoya said: “Last month, they invaded my farm and destroyed everything.

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

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

“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,” he said.

He urged the state government to avert any violence that could result from the situation.

“Some days ago, some of the farmers in Ekpetiama Kingdom took to the streets to protest the destruction of their crops and farmlands by cattle led by the herdsmen,” he noted.