We won’t send encroachers out of forests, says Ondo government
The Ondo State Government says it has resolved to generate economic activities in its forest reserves for monetary gains, contrary to insinuations from some quarters.
The government explained that instead of driving illegal occupants of the forest reserves out of the state, it would rather harness their activities into agricultural drives to boost its productivity and achieve the state’s food security goals.
Special Adviser to the Governor on Agriculture and Agric-business, Mr. Akin Olotu, stated this, yesterday, in Akure. He said the state would partner with investors to integrate encroachers in the scheme.
According to him, the new policy would not only help to boost high agricultural yields in the state but also put an end to peasant farming to boost massive industrialisation and employment opportunities.
“We have serious encroachment in the forests. I have met with the encroachers and told them they were not supposed to be there. We want to manage them.
“We had an agreement on having them registered and treated as tenants pending final arrangements to be put in place,” he said.
Meanwhile, the order given by the state that all illegal occupants of the forest reserves should vacate them had caused a lot of controversies among the state, Federal Government and some interest groups in the north.
Olotu, who dismissed all insinuations against the state government, revealed that the state would adopt the encroachers in the bid to further develop the agricultural potentials of the state for greater yields. He said: “The arrangement is part of the plan to cluster farmers. We want to cluster farmers in to improve output as well as be beneficial to farmers.
“The investors have agreed on strategies to take care of the encroachers. Some will be in growers and some will be relocated.
“We will allow others to harvest their crops and then we will cluster the farmers so that intervention for them will become easy. Until we organise farmers, we will not be able to drop peasant farming.” He said the state had been adjudged as the best model in the country, saying it has led to tomatoes and onions revolution in the state. According to him, 60 per cent of tomatoes entering Lagos State are harvested in Ondo State.