Life seems harsh for 82-year-old Mr Oluwole Abe after his cocoa farm, which he has cultivated for 54 years, burned down in a fire.
Bemoaning the loss of his cocoa, palm tree, plantain and orange farm occupying 25 acres at Iloro Ekiti in the Ijero Local Government Area of Ekiti State, Abe lamented that he was no longer a young man to face farming heads-on.
The octogenarian said, “This is a strange experience in my 54 years of farming. This fire incident has changed the course of my life and things for my family. I now look up to God because everything on my farm was razed.
I am at a loss especially as I am now an old man. I was confused about what I could do. I didn’t have the strength to rush down to the farm to put out the fire. Even those who went there were helpless as the farms burnt down completely, making their efforts to end in vain.
“I want the government to help me. This is because I have to repay the loans I took from banks and elsewhere for the farm. I borrow money yearly and I pay back. I have to pay back what I borrowed in this present instance now. This is why I need help.”
The story is different for 38-year-old Toyin Afolabi. His family lost their 61-acres of land to the fire, he became unconscious seeing the burnt farm and was rushed home by sympathisers.
Afolabi said his late father had 36 acres of land used to plant cocoa, kolanut, oranges, plantain and pineapples. He further stated that there were plantain, cocoa and cashew on his 25-acre farm, adding that his family members depended on it.
The youth farmer, who said he started farming at a young age, said, “When I got to the farm, it was our people there who carried me home. I cannot even say how I got home. It took some hours before I knew I was home.
“When I saw the extent of the damage, I asked myself, ‘where will I start from?’ I lost my dad’s farm and mine. Where will I begin? Even at that particular time, if there was means to take poison, I wouldn’t have hesitated. With what I saw, I was just thinking of the many years my father worked on the farm. Upon my dad’s death in 1990, my siblings asked me to take over as the eldest male child. It was in a bid to properly manage the farm that I quit schooling. I used the farm proceeds to sponsor the education of my siblings.’’
The youth farmer appealed to the state and federal governments for help, saying that there was no other means for the affected farmers.
He stated “Delay in compensating us can have psychological effects on us. Delay is dangerous. This is even complicated by the fact that there is no rain now which the affected farmers could have used for some quick-wins pending when we restart our farms,”