Looming conflict between farmers, herdsmen over use of land in Hola, Tana River

National Irrigation Board Hola scheme office. PHOTO: COURTESY.

Tana River, KENYA: Farmers in Area 6 section of Hola Irrigation Scheme are calling upon the county security personnel to intervene in order to curb losses, after herdsmen let over 700 cattle into their farms causing a lot of damage.

Speaking to Baraka FM on Monday, the scheme advisory committee Chairman Mr. Mohamed Maro said the herdsmen had caused them a huge loss.

He said despite them trying to humbly dialogue with them, the herdsmen did not stop letting their livestock into the farm but they instead continued grazing in the farm until nightfall.

“We are not happy with our brothers.They have not been sorry even after causing us losses on our farms, despite a peaceful confrontation,” said Chairman.

He said time has come when farmers would not sit and wait any longer and that they were going to convene a meeting so that they can enforce forceful eviction of the herdsmen from the scheme area.

Ms. Lucy Nyambura, one the affected farmer, said she had been harvesting her maize from one end when she heard commotion on another end that she was about to harvest.

Ms. Nyambura affirmed that her efforts to request the herdsmen to keep off the farms had bore no fruit, saying the herdsmen were rude to her and dared her to call the police if she feels like.

“I pleaded with them to remove the cattle from the farm and drive them far away, but they told me if I so wished, I arm myself with a machete and fight them, or they give me a police line to call the police, but they would not leave the farm.” She said.

Her colleague Mr. Dhadho Yaro put emphasis on the same issue adding that he was also told to take a weapon and brace himself for a fight.

“They told me they don’t fear the police and that if we wanted, we take weapons and fight, but they would not remove the herd from the farm.” He said.

The angry farmers have accused the herdsmen of trying to incite them. They have given the security team until tomorrow morning, after which they will take matters into their own hands.

“The damage that we have incurred here is enough, and we hereby give the county security team until tomorrow morning to ensure that there is no single cow in the scheme area, failure to which we will do it on our own,” added Mohamed Hiribae, who is a section leader in the scheme.

Disputes between farmers and herdsmen have been witnessed for the past three months, with several injuries emerging from a couple of fights having been reported in the areas of Tana Delta.

Despite the calls for peace, harmony and cohesion by leaders in Tana River County, more cases of wrangles and fight continue to emerge.

However, Tana River DCC Michael Kioni has said his security team would follow up the issue and ensure it was settled amicably.