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Regional News Tue, 8 Mar 2016

Tension mounts between Fulani herdsmen and Afram Plains indigenes

Cattle destroying water bodies

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The destruction of farms by cattle of nomadic herdsmen is causing tension beyond Agogo in the Ashanti region which has become the epicentre of the menance.

There is a growing tension between the herdsmen and the locals of Afram Plains in the Eastern region.

Many farmers in the Afram Plains are suffering destruction of their crops, and water bodies in the area, according to Joy News’ Kwetey Nartey.

“What makes it worrying is the fact that these locals are small-scale farmers and what they produce is what they feed on with their families until the next farming season. The sense I got while interacting with them was that of pain and distress,” Kwetey Nartey stated.

The nomadic herdsmen have been associated with all kinds of crimes including murder stealing and rape aside their cattle destroying crops of farmers in some parts of the country.

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Security agencies began actions to flush out the herdsmen and their cattle from Agogo and its surroundings. Some of the herdsmen and their cattle headed to the Eastern and Brong Ahafo regions.

In February, the Eastern Regional Security Council re-introduced an operation called ‘Operation Cow Leg’ to also flush out the nomads from the region after several failed attempts.

As a result of the operation, the nomadic herdsmen now take the herds for grazing during the night. And, according to residents, these cattle are herded by children who are unable to effectively control them.

They end up destroying people’s farms. And, once the destruction wasn’t caused during the day, the farmers find it difficult to identify the culprits.

Kwetey Nartey reports that a cassava farm of a 70- year- old man, Bapire Dery who has 20 children and three wives, had been destroyed by the herds of cattle.

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“His millet which he stored on the farms was also chewed by the animals. I was at his farm to verify what he had told me, and it was quite a spectacle. What the animals do is to chew the leaves of the cassava and dig out the yam with their hoofs,” Kwetey indicated.

Bapire Dery told Kwetey that it is the second time he is suffering from such a damage. The first time he was lucky to have identified the culprits so they paid for the destruction. But, the second time was different as he does not know who is responsible, according to the farmer.

At a village called Atonsu, a farmer, Agya Yaw said the cattle had destroyed his maize, millet and cassava farms.

He said they are unable to complain because when they do, it results in quarrels and the herdsmen threaten the wives of the farmers.

He said he has reported the incident to the police and there have been joint police and military raids in the town but that has not dissuaded the herdsmen from invading their farms.

Another concern of the Afram Plains indigenes is the muddying of water bodies by the cattle.

Kwetey Nartey indicated that “Many of the streams that the people drink from have dried up because of the drought. The few that are left have either been muddied by the herds of cattle that drink from them or are at the level of drying up.”

He said the locals are compelled to walk long distances in search of water.

“I saw school children who did not go to school because they had to go and search for water. In some areas, it takes hours to reach the nearest boreholes,” Kwetey added.

Meanwhile, speaking to him, the herdsmen accused the joint military and police taskforce that carried out the operation cow leg of brutalizing them.

“They showed me marks on the bodies which reflect some level of assault. They say about 14 of their animals were killed in the operation cow leg exercise,” Kwetey stated.

They claim they pay for the cost of damage anytime their herds destroy someone’s food crops.

But according to Kwetey, the indigenes play up this issue of destruction and take advantage of it to kill some of the cattle of the Fulani.

He said he saw some of the carcasses of cattle that had been killed which the Fulani retrieved.

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Source: Myjoyonline.com