Farmers in Zamfara State have endorsed Governor Bello Muhammad Matawalle’s decision to revoke farmland allocations, saying a lot of racketeering was the order of the day in respect of farmland distribution in the state.
Farmers who spoke to Daily Trust on Sunday on the matter said land racketeers were among major contributors to herders/farmers conflicts that bedevilled the state for many years, adding that the state government’s intervention came at the right time.
A farmer in Dansadau, Alhaji Ya’u Muhammad, said a lot of cattle routes and grazing reserves in Dansadau district had been taken over by farmers, to the extent that herders sometimes had no options than to drive their cows into people’s farmlands, whether the crops had been harvested or not.
“There are many hectares of land allocated to farmers on the order of the state government. The demands for allocation of the farmlands by farmers most times are a result of pressure.
“This is because the population is growing; hence the pressure on the available lands by residents. Racketeers are part of the problems. This is because whenever the state government ordered for such allocations, say, 200 hectares, the forestry officers and some traditional rulers would connive to add 800 hectares to the 200 already earmarked by government.
“I can tell you that in this district, wherever the state government orders for land allocation, if it instructed that 100 hectares be allocated, an additional 400 hectares would be titled, and where 200 hectares are to be titled, an additional 800 hectares would be made, and most times without the prior knowledge of the state authorities.
“Still in Dansadau district, one university professor from Zuru was allocated 1,000 hectares of land by the emirate council. The land is along the Zamfara-Kebbi border. After he sensed that the state government was planning to revoke all land titles, he demanded that his money be paid back to him to cede the land.
“The proceeds from the land allocation would be shared among the stakeholders. This is what has been happening for quite a long time. With state government’s decision to revoke land allocations, I am going to be affected, and I will have to forfeit some of my lands too,’’ Mohammed said.
“What is surprising is that such land allocations are being done without any official document backing them up. The forestry officers will just verbally ask one to go and till the land if one so wished, but with payment of money. The action taken by the state government is the right way to go if farmers’ productivity is to be assured,” he added.
Another farmer from Anka Local Government Area, Alhaji Yusuf Ibrahim, said the way some bigwigs in the state were acquiring lands without utilisation was worrisome. He said land owners were not putting the huge hectares of land they acquired in use, thus affecting small holder farmers’ productivity.
“So many of these people will scramble for lands, and after they are allocated, they would remain uncultivated for many years. This is also affecting the potential output of farmers, especially smallholder ones.’’