A former Chief of Naval Staff, Vice-Admiral Samuel Afolayan, has warned that the efforts of the federal and state governments to ensure national food sufficiency, employment generation, industrialisation and diversification of the economy may become fruitless if the menace of destruction of farmlands and attack on farmers by herdsmen is not curtailed.
He said the herders struck again, attacking his Special Royal Farm at Obbo-Ile in the Ekiti Local Government Area of Kwara State and destroyed 121 hectares of his 500 hectare farmland.
Conducting journalists round the destroyed/burnt farm on Wednesday, he stated that out of his 500-hectare farm, the herders newly burnt 67 hectares of cassava worth N57m; 50 hectares of palm trees and four hectares of sweet corns ready for harvest valued at N2.5m.
He explained that out of 5,000 orange trees on the farm, less than 2,000 trees were spared. He lamented that the destruction was a great setback to his efforts to contribute to national food security, diversification of the economy and improve the living standards of Nigerians.
He said seven of the suspected herders had been arrested and handed over to the police.
It will be recalled that the former naval boss recently cried out that herders had burnt about his 20 hectares of orange farm, 20 hectares of cassava farm and five hectares of palm farm valued at over N200m.
Afolayan said neither the Federal Government nor the Kwara State Government had come to his aid. He added that only the Ekiti Local Government Council chairman visited the farm and sympathized with him.
He said, “The continued destruction of farms by herdsmen is sad. For me, and with my experience, without the FG taking serious steps to halt herdsmen destruction, the FG’s food production and employment program will be in vain.”
He also said, “The action of the herdsmen has proved to me that it is a deliberate act. Now, I have traced their cows to their camps; that is why I concluded that somebody living a distance of between three and six kilometers goes inside my farm to destroy it. I believe it is intentional.”