Farmers in Oyo State have been assured that all measures are in place to secure their lives as the State government would not allow individuals masquerading as herders to halt the pace of development in the agricultural sector of the State economy.
The Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Hon Ojemuyiwa Ojekunle, gave this assurance while addressing farmers from Ijaye Farm Settlement, at the Ministry’s conference room after a peaceful demonstration conducted within the State secretariat complex by the aggrieved farmers.
The farmers have protested the destruction of their farms by cattle herders which has led to loss of their investments in the farms within the Ijaye Farm Settlement.
The Commissioner noted that the Engr. Seyi Makinde-led administration is a government of the masses which holds farmers in high esteem, urging farmers to bear in mind that economic expansion through agriculture and its value chain is one of the four point service agenda of the administration.
Hon Ojekunle said the government understood the plights of the farmers and would not leave any stone unturned in ensuring that farmers enjoy the fruits of their labour and secure their lives as well.
Earlier, the Chairman, Ijaye Farm Settlement Farmers’ Association, Dr. Tunde Tairu while stating their grievances, said that herdsmen and their cattle have invaded their farmland and have turned farmers to slaves on government land for which they paid rent yearly.
Tairu said further that the herdsmen could not be challenged because they were armed with sophisticated weapons and farmers were being threatened with guns anytime they challenge the herders.
“In fact two days ago, one of our farmers that challenged them on his own farm got his left arm amputated right in our presence,” Tairu added.
He noted that Fulanis have been terrorizing farmers for a long time but the situation has become precarious, as the herders have continued to rape and kidnap their family and community members.
The protesters requested for massive presence of security personnel on their farmland and also appealed to the government to create an office for Amotekun officials in the community, with the belief that it would scare criminals among the herders away.
Members of Ijaye Farm Settlement Farmers Association thereafter expressed gratitude to the State government for the privilege given them to express their grievances without prejudice, while also commending the Commissioner for the native intelligence he employed in handling the situation, noting that no government has ever given them such listening ears and opportunity for dialogue.
They pleaded with the Commissioner to ensure that action is taken and promises made by the government are fulfilled in earnest.
The peace meeting also had in attendance the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mrs Bolatumi Oloko, Director of Crops and Farm Settlement, Mr. Opawusi, Director Animal Husbandry, Mr. Odedele and other members of the management team.