Determined to create a conducive environment for sustainable agricultural activities, Ekiti State Governor, Mr Biodun Oyebanji, on Friday reconstituted the state’s Farmers/Herders Peace Committee consisting of some critical stakeholders.
The move is part of efforts of the state government to mitigate clashes between farmers and herders and ensure greater level of productivity in crop and livestock agriculture.
Speaking during the Inauguration of the committee at the Governor’s Office in Ado Ekiti, Governor Oyebanji said the initiative would lead to the transformation of the agricultural sector and boost food security in Ekiti state.
The Governor recalled that the committee was first constituted during the last administration in response to the need for the state to have a mechanism for resolution of incessant conflicts between farmers and herders, adding that Ekiti State is the first to put in place an effective conflict resolution mechanism in the entire south west geo-political zone.
This, according to him, has helped to keep farmers/herders crisis at a very low ebb compared to other states in different parts of the country.
Speaking further, the Governor said the state government, in its drive to boost the economy and create employment opportunities for the people has attracted private investors to develop the agricultural sub-sector of the state, hence, the need to reconstitute the committee in order to pave way for a conducive business environment and reposition it for a more defined direction.
He commended members of the dissolved committee for ensuring relative peace and tranquility among farmers and herders in the state, noting that Ekiti State has provided leadership direction on the issue of farmers/ herders conflict being the first to put in place a conflict resolution mechanism in the southwest zone which has ensured low crisis profile for a long time.
Governor Oyebanji, however said there were still reports about farm destruction, farmland degradation, water pollution, farm grazing and physical attacks on the farms among others which invariably were not only potential causes of violent crisis, but a threat to peace and food security in the state.
“We also had to deal with kidnappings many of which herders were suspected or indeed arrested aa gculprits. This trend has to be reversed so as not to create an atmosphere of chaos, vengeance, retribution and lawlessness, hence, the need to reconstitute this committee in order to reposition it for a more defined direction in response to the urgent reality of today.
“For fairness and equity, all interested stakeholders are included in the committee including cattle-breeders, herdsmen, farmers, security out fits, drivers’ unions, market women, traditional rulers, youths and others.
“It is our responsibility to sustain the confidence of our Agricultural business owners and other stakeholders that their investments are secured in Ekiti.
“Let me assure all the citizens that the committee, which is headed by the special Adviser on Security Matters, Retired Brigadier General Ebenezer Ogundana and other eminent personalities will be just and proactive in their conflict resolution assignments”. He said.
The Governor added that the various crises between farmers and herders as well as other crimes in communities posed great threats to peace and food security in the state, urging the committee members to work in synergy with all stakeholders to ensure their cooperation.
He assured that Amotekun and Anti grazing corps in the state would be further strengthened to work with other security outfits for collaboration and effectiveness, most especially in the rural areas.
All relevant stakeholders including cattle breeders, herdsmen, farmers, security outfits, drivers unions, market women, traditional rulers, youths, among others are duly represented in the committee to ensure fairness and equity.
Earlier, the Commissioner for Agriculture and Food Security, Mr. Ebenezer Boluwade, who expressed his appreciation to Governor Oyebanji for prioritizing issues concerning farmers, said the committee would facilitate the present administration shared prosperity agenda.
Boluwade who emphasized the importance of farmers and herders to agricultural growth in any giving society, expressed the hope that farm produce in Ekiti in the coming harvest season would be better as a result of the reconstituted farmers/herders peace Committee.
Also in his own remark, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Security Matters, Brig. Gen. Ebenezer Ogundana (rtd), said efforts were ongoing to ensure harmonious relationship among farmers, herders, security agencies and communities in Ekiti as he equally expressed the belief that inauguration of the committee would help to address farmers/herders clashes in the state.
Also at the event were the Speaker, Ekiti State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Adeoye Aribasoye, members of the State Executive Council, Secretary to the State government, Dr Habibat Adubiaro, Head of Service, Engr. Sunday Komolafe, traditional rulers and security personnels.