Farmers protest eviction, destruction of farmland by Ondo govt

Hakeem Gbadamosi, Akure

Cocoa farmers from Ore community in Odigbo Local Government Area of Ondo State on Wednesday, protested over the destruction of their farmland by a private company, alleging the state government of selling their cocoa farm without prior negotiations.

The farmers who trooped out in their numbers, armed with placards of various inscriptions such as ‘Our land is weeping because the land keepers are being displaced, ‘ ‘Where do we farm if our land is taken away?,’ ‘Respect the farmers because we give life,’ among others.

The protesters alleged that the company that purchased the farmlands stormed their farms with earthmoving equipment, uprooting their cocoa trees most of which were filled with seedlings.

According to them, the company destroyed their farms and their product which were predominantly cash crops farms including cocoa, kolanut and palm tree.

Speaking on behalf of the protesters, Mr.  Adetoro Opeyemi, said farmers from seven villages within the community were affected saying they have paid their annual levy to the state government.

He said many of the farmers were affected while the state government has displaced them, while the company that bought the plantations from government has begun to clear the farms.

But the Senior Special Assistant to the governor on Agriculture and Agric business, Mr, Akin Olotu, explained that the forest belongs to the state government and the ownership was not at anytime transferred to any farmer upon payment of levy.

According to the Special Assistant, the forest was cleared to give way for planting of oil palm as requested by Central Bank of Nigeria that gives each state the opportunity to choose two crops in which it has comparative advantage for investors to come in.

Olotu said, “We told them that we are going to support them with new cocoa seedling. Nobody is sending anybody to unemployment market. If you’re affected, there’s provision to take care of you.

“Those that are not affected this year, the arrangement is that they should start now in this new area. We are going to give them seedlings when it’s planting season.

“We now want to do standard farming, what you are having from five hectares, you can now get it from one hectare with proper management.”



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