Ondo state Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr, Adegboyega Adefarati has allayed the fears of farmers in Government Forest Reserves across the state by assuring them that government has no intention to evict them but to regulate their activities and ensure proper forest management in the state.
The Commissioner who spoke in Akure while addressing heads of communities and villages in government forests reserves told them that the ongoing farmers’ registration exercise in the forest reserves was not aimed at evicting or victimising them, but to ensure that they carried out their duties without molestation.
He told the farmers representatives that the exercise was to ascertain the number of farmers in the forest reserves and the level of depletion with the aim to restore sanity and protect the farmers from unnecessary harassment by individuals or organizations.
Mr. Adefarati enjoined the farmers to take advantage of the gesture to register with the approved government agent to avoid eviction and prosecution, stressing that anyone who fails to register and obtain his identity card at the expiration of the period would be tagged as on encroacher.
The Commissioner assured them that since government has no intention to take away their means of livelihood, they should also reciprocate the magnanimity of government by adhering to every rule and regulation guiding their operation in the forest reserves.
The Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mr. Segun Odusanya warned the farmers against dealing with any group or individual outside the approved agents of the state government.
Community leaders, including the Olu of Oniserere-Ofosu, Oba Henry Olumakaye, and the Elefosan of Ala Community, Oba Akin Ogunneka described the farmers’ registration exercise as long overdue.
They said apart from shielding the farmers from unnecessary harassments, from individuals and agencies, it would also provide income for the state government and enhance the development of the rural communities.