Benue farmers have decried the latest attacks carried out by suspected Fulani herdsmen in Agatu Local Government Area of the state.
At least 145 persons in 25 villages have been reportedly killed in the last 72 hours from the attacks which began on Wednesday night through to the early hours of Thursday.
In a press statement, the Benue All Farmers’ Association of Nigeria (AFAN) President, Engr. Iornenge K. Adamu said the attacks had become unbearable and called for an end to the carnage.
“Benue state is the food basket of the nation. The victims of these attacks are predominantly farmers who more or less, are responsible for this appellation as they produce yams, cassava, soyabeans, beniseed and other crops in large quantities to feed the state and its environs.
“If these attacks continue unabated, we stand the risk of losing our status with the consequence of a potential famine due to depletion of our work force and even outright destruction of crops by the encroaching cattle. This will be a disaster for Benue State and Nigeria at large,” Adamu said.
Engineer Adamu also expressed worry over the Federal Government’s proposal to create grazing reserves, to cater for the pastoral needs of Fulani herdsmen across the country, saying such a project would only amount to forcefully taking land from indigenous owners.
He, therefore, called for the establishment of modern ranches as a permanent panacea to the incessant clashes between farmers and herdsmen in the state and other parts of the country.
“Any planned grazing routes and reserves are hardly practicable in the state as lands are not sufficiently available for such projects. This will mean coercive confiscation of lands belonging to peasant farmers, most of whom because of their low level of literacy, are not even aware of such a project. Evidently, the frequency, intensity, scope and unacceptable levels of carnage visited on the Benue communities by the Fulani herdsmen cannot augur well for accepting any proposed grazing routes and reserves in our suffered State,” Adamu said.
“The Federal government should rather encourage and facilitate the option of feed lots, making hays and establishment of mega ranches in the state and other parts of the country to solve this lingering problem once and for all.”