From Maurice Okafor , Enugu.
Usually, the expectations of most rural dwellers from the month of April every year in most agrarian zones in Nigeria including Enugu state, is the coming of the rainy season to enable them engage in massive farming of both food and cash crops for feeding their immediate families. This, by extension is their major source of deriving income through the sales of the various farm products in their local markets or bulk sales to middle men who in return sell in larger markets or package for exports, as the case may be.
Investigations proved that in most communities, there has been the culture of most rural farmers owning two farms at each planting season, tthe home farm, which usually situates close to the farmers home, from which they can attend to their immediate domestic food needs. Then, the usually bigger farms usually planted some metres or kilometers away,as the case might be, in the various communities.Traditionally, such distant extra large farms are referred as ‘Agu’ by most communities. It has been a persisting culture among professional farmers across Igbo land to plant most of their crops in their distant farms[Agu] and expect the major yields of the season from the distant farms.
But the menace and devastating effects of endless wandering of Fulani herdsmen across various forests in states like in Enugu with their cows grazing and damaging various farmlands raised by farmers,is discouraging rural farmers in raising distant farms[Agu]
Checks revealed that the gory tales of raping of women found in their farms allegedly by wondering Fulani herdsmen is also a major reason why the usual cultural practice of cultivating in distant forests[Agu] with the advantage of massive land is on the decline.
Mr Ikeagwu Ozoemene, a native of Okpuno Ahani -Achi in Oji River local government area of Enugu state,said it is unbearable that they no longer cross over the bank of the river, with massive hectares of land, which hitherto served as a farming zone[Agu] to most members of the community,because of ravaging of previous crops they planted by alleged wandering Fulani herdsmen,whose cows fed on their cassava farms and other crops.
The case of Okpuno Ahani- Achi community in Oji River local government area of Enugu state seems to be the same with most of the rural farmers in most communities in Enugu state,who obviously looks helpless amidst the deteriorating situation.
It has now become an onerous task for both the state and local government authorities to devise methods of protecting our rural farmers,so they can go back to their massive farmlands if food must be produced abundantly for local consumption etc.
Evidently, the neighborhood association vigilante groups established by the state government in conjunction with the various 17 local government authorities cannot be enough join and protect the rural farmers while they are on their farms. Even thereafter, who are those to remain behind and guide the farmlands at odd hours.
To that extent, the respective community’s ideas and initiatives on how to secure their farmlands ravaging cows of Fulani herdsmen becomes imperative.
Presently, controversy, trails the last week’s incident at Agbada Nenwe community, in Aninri local government area of Enugu state,where reports and video clips on social media had it that some Youths of the community,mobilized themselves to tell a group of Fulani herdsmen with their cows,trespassing across the community, to search for another area, In view of the gruesome menace, they have done to their crops previously.
However, the community leader,Igwe Francis Imo,said the report was false in addition to the stand of Enugu state police command through a statement by it’s image maker in the state, Mr Ebere Amaraizu,[SP],stating that the said Fulani herdsmen and their cattle were merely passing over to Ebonyi state.
Amaraizu stated,“On receipt of this information, the state Commissioner of Police directed for an investigation into the alleged development and that following preliminary enquiry conducted, it was revealed that such situation never existed and that it was only the movement of cattle and herders from Cross River State through Uburu in Ohaozara Local Government Area of Ebonyi State and a neighbouring town for grazing’.
Governor Ugwunayi, who visited Agbada Nenwe on Monday, June 29, to clarify issues by himself, in his capacity as the chief security officer,pleaded for a harmonious peaceful co existence among the natives and the Fulani herdsmen,stating that Enugu state is home for all.
Against criticisms trailing Governor Ugwuanyi’s visit to Agbada Nenwe to clarify issues for himself, some analysts said that the visit was prompt and proactive,to calm freighting nerves, as he was equally reassured of peaceful co existence in the community by leaders of miyetti Allah.