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How South-East can make their farmlands less attractive to herdsmen



How South-East can make their farmlands less attractive to herdsmen

A former Chief of Army Staff, General Azubuike Ihejirika (retired) has suggested how communities in South-East could make their farmlands less attractive for cattle to graze upon and from local governments to encroach on.

He said the communities would achieve that by the people coming together, clearing sizeable areas and making their farms in the form of cooperatives and not isolated.

According to him, the selective and isolated farming style being operated in the region currently, makes farms attractive for cattle to graze upon in the region.

Ihejirika made this suggestion when he spoke at an event in the Isuikwuato Local Government Area of Abia State.

The former Chief of Army Staff said because several farmlands had been abandoned for other trades and allowed to turn into forests, that herdsmen no longer see them as farms, but as forest where their cattle can graze.

He added that except the farmlands were cultivated in large quantities, or as cooperatives, that the herdsmen would continue to have their cattle graze on them.

He said, “I believe that if in our communities (in the South-East), people come together, clear sizeable areas and make their farms in form of cooperatives and not isolated farms, it will be easier to relate with other interest groups like herdsmen and local governments. But if they farm in communities or as cooperatives, they should also be able to relate with herdsmen who have already organised themselves also in the form of cooperatives.”

To make farming attractive, he said the government should focus more at ensuring infrastructure in form of access roads to the farmlands, clearing of the forests and less on empowering people to go into farming.

He said when these infrastructures “are done well people be encouraged to venture into farming, particularly in our area that is rain forest.”

On importance of youths going into farming, he said, “Abia in particular and South-East, in general, have been a model for other areas (in farming). If we go back to the Michael Okpara era, it was in the South-East that he established farm settlements, which came with schools, cooperatives and arrangements that the government even bought off products for export. So, the role of government is very important.

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“The best government can give to the youths is to encourage them in farming. The stipend they can give the youths will come to nothing if there is no access road, the cleared forest turned to farmlands, and they do not have, perhaps, the necessary education. Government at all levels should clear large areas of forest and turn them into farms and hand them over to those youths or entrepreneurs who have a genuine interest in agriculture.”

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