Delta farmers bemoan loss of crops, farmlands to bush burning
Some farmers in Aboh-Ogwashi community in Aniocha South Local Government Area of Delta on Thursday grumbled about the destruction of their farmlands and produce by fire ignited via indiscriminate bush burning.
The farmers expressed their grief in separate interviews with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ogwashi-Uku.
They stressed that their productivity had nose-dived due to perennial incidence of bush burning in the area.
One of the farmers, 76-year-old Gabriel Ubosi , said that he lost all the crops in his farmland to bush burning last Friday night.
He said that the fire had consequently incapacitated him as a farmer.
“In just a night, I lost my entire farm to bush burning. This is very devastating to me because the farm is my only source of livelihood.
“Right now, I am finished because I don’t know where to start from.
“I was in the farm on Friday, only for me to come on Saturday morning to discover that my farm has been ravaged by fire, with all my crops like cassava, yam and vegetables destroyed in the previous night.’’
Ubosi, however, alleged that his farmland might have been torched by rampaging herdsmen.
“Every harmattan season, this is how we suffer untold losses. This evil act is the handiwork of some intruders because our people can never do this.
“Everybody here is suspecting the herdsmen. Over the years, we have been contending with the activities of these people.
“This is why we are appealing to the government to help curtail the excesses of these marauding herdsmen,’’ Ubosi said.
Another farmer, Mr Edwin Echime, who was visibly pained when NAN visited the community, said that he lost his farmland, which was his only means of livelihood, to fire ignited by bush burning.
He said that bush burning had destroyed many hectares of farmlands, leaving many farmers hopeless, destitute and devastated.
He also accused rampaging herdsmen of setting his farm on fire.
“Here in Aboh, we are all farmers and we know each other. The only problem we have here is the herdsmen on the rampage.
“The herdsmen are the major suspects because they enter our farms with impunity; they invade our farmlands and their cattle graze on our crops.
“There was a day I confronted them in my farm, but I had to flee because I was alone in the farm that day.
“Last Saturday, I did not go to the farm because I took my daughter to the hospital; when I returned, my neighbour informed me that my farm have been destroyed by fire,’’ he said.
Echime said that he was so devastated when he went to his farm later in the day to confirm the incident, adding that he lost all the crops in the farm to the fire.
Mr George Ukwadia, chairman of the farmers’ union in the area, said that the wanton destruction of farmlands by bush burning was very worrisome.
He said that bush burning had been a major source of concern to farmers in the area.
He also alleged that herdsmen often invaded farmlands in the neighbourhood with their cattle, in search of grazing fields.
“I must tell you that what we have been experiencing over the years has become very worrisome.
“You can imagine the huge loss of farms and crops due to reckless bush burning.
“Personally, and just like most of my colleagues will tell you, herdsmen are responsible for the destruction of our farms.
“We have always challenged them to take their cattle away from our farmlands.
“These herdsmen are the ones setting our farms on fire at night when they know that the farmers would have retired home.
“Our people cannot destroy our farms,’’ he added.
Ukwadia said that the union was, however, investigating other possible causes of bush burning in the area, with the view of apprehending the culprits.