BY MARY KUYE
Pursuant to the passage of the anti-grazing bill into law in Ondo State, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu has registered over 32,000 farmers in forest reserves areas across the state. This just as the farmers were also ordered to register with the government to get permission to farm in the forests.
According to him, the initiative would tackle the spate of insecurity in Ondo State.
Recall that Akeredolu had earlier given orders that all herdmen who were occupying the forest reserves illegally should register with the state government or vacate the reserves.
Mr Tolu Adegbie, the Ondo State Chairman of the Ondo State Internal Revenue Service, at a meeting with farmers and other stakeholders, in Akure, said a total of 32,881 farmers had so far registered with the government.
The stakeholders’ meeting was organised by the ODIRS in conjunction with the state Ministry of Agriculture.
Adegbie explained that the registration was part of the government’s efforts to
check criminal activities and secure the lives of the people in the forest reserves.
According to him, in the record of the ODIRS, there are 14 forest reserves in the state with 483 camps and 57,758 hectares of cultivated land in the reserves. He noted that each of the farmers would pay a sum of N10,000 per hectare as rent annually, while the service of a consulting firm – ODK Consult had been employed to serve the farmers on the forest reserves, the assessment letters while the farmers would thereafter pay into the bank account of government, based on the assessment of their land.
He said, “You will recall that Governor Akeredolu has ordered that everybody operating in the forest reserves of Ondo State should go and registered when the issue of insecurity in Ondo State became so bad because we don’t know the legal and illegal occupants of the forests. The registration exercise has been going on for a while but not properly done.
“The ODIRS now came in and we have been able to capture about 95 per cent of the farmers and we have a total of 32,881 farmers in the forest reserves. The government now charged the farmers token as rent based on the number of hectares they are cultivating. But the farmers were there illegally ab initio.”