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April 15, 2024
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Ondo Farmers Decry Chinese Acquisition of Farmlands, Citing Threat to Livelihoods

Farmers from about 44 communities, villages and farm settlements in Ondo West Local Government Area of Ondo State have protested what they described as the take over of their farmlands by Chinese companies, depriving them of their sources of livelihood.

The farmers alleged that the state government had forcefully taken the lands and leased it to the Chinese companies.

To demand a reversal of the move by the government, the farmers, on Tuesday, marched on Ondo city and took the protest to the palace of the Osemawe of Ondo Kingdom.

The farmers had also protested last year after the government said there was no going back on their relocation from the lands.

The state government is in a pact with the Chinese companies as part of efforts to attract investors to the state.

The protesters said they had sighted many bulldozers in their areas to clear their cash crops, especially cocoa farm.

They pleaded with Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa to reverse the leasing decision.

The farmers said the agrarian communities, which include Laosho, Laje, Eruwa, Ulugba, Adejori, Kabiyesi, Lafa, Oloruntedo, Obadore Yinka, Keseomi, Lomofe, Gbekelu, Langbodo, , Abuja, Lopaun, Sahara, Aba Cocoa, Topeu, Bolorunduro, Iyolope and Yemisi, were known for production of cocoa, palm oil, cashew and other cash crops.

Armed with placards with different inscriptions such as, ‘We are dying,’ ‘Help our children,’ ‘Chinese want to kill us,’ ‘Aiyedatiwa, jeki aye datiwa,’ and ‘Save our Souls,’ among others, the farmers appealed to the state government to give them the privilege of paying a special due, if desired, to enable them retain the farms.

They requested the Ondo state government to stop the invasion to avert the destruction of their means of likelihood.

The Oloja of Eruwa, one of the communities in Ondo west local government area, Olalani Ibitoye, who spoke on behalf of the protesting farmers, appealed to the state government to allow them continue with their farming, considering the current economic hardship in the country.

“We confirm that our farm lands had been sold to China by the immediate past administration of Akeredolu; we saw that they have brought in bulldozers to clear some parts,” the community head said.

“We felt we had been left alone to farm when we protested last year, and we had written petitions because this land belonged to our forefathers. But recently, we saw them (Chinese investors) around again; we are appealing to all authorities involved that we have no other place to go, we do not want to be out there as hoodlums.

“We have been here for many years, and I cannot go anywhere with my children. I’m old. We are just asking the government to have mercy and leave us alone here,” he added.

The Osemawe of Ondo kingdom, Victor Kiladejo, advised the community leaders to put their agitations on paper with signatures of all their leaders in order to table it before the Ondo state government.

“We would take actions on this matter; we would get to the government on it. I charged the chiefs in these communities to put their agitation on paper,” the monarch said.

“Anything the community is going to do, we do not have to insult the government. We would channel our agitation wisely, and we are optimistic that the government would find something to do,” he added.

The Chief Press Secretary to the state governor, Ebenezer Adeniyan, in a reaction, said the government would look into the agitation.

“The state government will not deliberately take the people’s means of livelihood, even while we strive to enhance the economy of the state by encouraging investments.

“The government has taken note of the agitations of the communities and will look into finding an acceptable solution to the issue,” Mr Adeniyan said.

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