Suspected herdsmen have destroyed more than 25 rice farms in Gassol chiefdom in Gassol Local Government Area of Taraba State.
The rice farms, according to findings by North East Trust, were mature and ready for harvest when the herdsmen in their numbers led their herds of cattle into them.
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Some of the owners of the destroyed farms told our correspondent in an interview that they expected to harvest hundreds of bags of paddy rice but unfortunately, the herdsmen destroyed their farms completely.
One of the farmers, Alhaji Bose Gassol, said he planted more than 40 bags of rice seeds in his farms and was expecting to harvest over 2,000 bags of paddy rice but the cows had eaten up everything.
“The herdsmen used to lead their herds to the farms in the night when the owners of the farms were asleep.
“When the news came out, I rushed to my farm but to my surprise, the matured rice I left the previous day was completely destroyed,” he said.
Another farmer, Hamza Suleiman, told North East Trust that he planted nine bags of rice seeds in his farm and was expecting to harvest about 400 bags of paddy rice but few days to the start of harvesting his farm, it was completely destroyed by cows.
He said it was agreed that herdsmen should only cross into the area at end of December when farmers were expected to have completed harvesting their crops but were surprised to see them being allowed to cross into the area very early in the month.
“We know that movement of herdsmen with their herds will cause problems in the area but they were allowed in despite complaints by farmers,” he said.
Another farmer, Hambali Umar, said he was disappointed at the refusal of the police to bring to book the herdsmen who destroyed their farms despite reporting the matter to the Divisional Police Officer in charge of Gassol Division.
He said farmers lost millions of Naira worth of rice, adding that the majority of them took loans and invested in their farms.
“We collectively reported the matter to Gassol Police Division but no action was taken and the perpetrators are moving with their herds freely in Gassol area,” he said.
The spokesperson of Taraba Police Command, DSP Usman Abdullahi, told North East Trust that the matter was not officially reported to the command.
He said the Commissioner of Police had recently visited Gassol Division and the Divisional Police Officer in charge of the area did not mention the matter.
“The state police commissioner recently visited Gassol Division and the DPO in charge of the Division did not mention any complaint of destruction of rice farms before the commissioner,” DSP Usman Abdullahi said.
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