Sunday, February 16, 2020 7:42 pm
By Titilola Aishat Damilola
Two weeks ago, Fulani herdsmen entered my Mum’s cashew farm and burnt well over 210 cashew trees. I got home tired from the farm that day, made my way to my Aunt’s room only for my Aunt to ask my Mum ‘S’eti sofun Dammy?’ Have you informed Dammy? Kini? What, I asked? Then Mum narrated the whole story. See, my heart broke into many pieces. I was this close to tears but I knew if I had cried there, my Mum would have been really hurt. So I asked: ‘What next’?
My Mum studied Agric Economics at the University of Nigeria, Nsuka. She graduated, got a job at the Bank and retired 2015. She got her first masters at the Ekiti State University, Ado while she was at the bank. After retirement, she thought to follow her passion- farming.
She went into full time cashew farming in 2017 in Igboho. At that time, she was pursuing her second masters at the University of Ibadan in Sustainable Development. My Mum is so determined, she pulled everything through. You can imagine traveling from Ibadan to Igboho every fortnight. During planting season, she would stay months in the town. Imagine the mental and financial stress that come with farming in Nigeria. So it broke me when some miscreants entered her farm and burnt a portion of it with the intention of burning the whole place. A farmer that shared a boundary with her saw the fire and immediately alerted people. They were able to put out the fire before it took over the whole farm. The loss was much.
So how were we certain it was Fulani herdsmen? Immediately the man raised the alarm, he saw them running out of the farm with their cows. He was able to identify them with their cows.
My Mum had to leave for Igboho the next day. I even had to check on her every minute to be sure she was fine. That kind of thing can cause HBP!
Don’t even get me started on the whole police issue again. That is a story for another day. Imagine men of the Nigerian police asking my mother to serve the suspects a letter for invitation, she did almost all the job the police were supposed to do. When she wasn’t making any progress, she had to involve the King and other top people. Only then did the Nigerian police start doing their job. Then the police said ‘Ma, you should have told us you knew the King na‘.
Eventually, the Police were able to arrest some suspects and she started making progress. Mumci said they were going to pay a huge sum for damages. Then the Fulani people started running from one place to another, seeking sympathy, asking that the case be dropped, begging etc…
The suspects the police arrested were men who had been known to cause wahala (trouble) in that village. They even arrested kids. One of them, a seven-year old – I tell you they are all notorious children! They keep causing havoc with their cows.
My Mum made sure she made a statement even when she eventually dropped all charges after much begging. Personally, I felt she should not have dropped the charges, though but then she knows best. It is not like the farm can be relocated to another area so they will all manage themselves as best as they can.
Everyone intervened, the Fulani guys went to everyone who knew my Mum to beg. They said they could not raise the money, blah blah blah . So, they agreed to put everything in writing. No trespassing again, nothing must happen to her and her staff. If she sees small cows poop in her farm, she will take it up again, so now everyone of them will serve as a watch for her farm. Hopefully!
We saw where the fire started. The Fulani herdsmen were roasting yam and after eating the yam, they decided to burn the farm.
The whole of Orelope Local Government has just one police station. What exactly can a few cops do in a local government that big? Not much.
So, community policing is the way forward. Let the locals be in charge of their security.
I could only summarize this much. The story is long. At the end, I am thankful that my Mum is fine and safe.
Crop farming is not for the faint hearted, especially crop farming on a large scale in Nigeria. We always have Fulani herdsmen to deal with all the time. It is discouraging. Cashew that would start fruiting next year- and I had been planning how I would buy Bugatti when the farm comes up full throttle! Now this destruction happened!
Read her earlier interview with TheNEWS here