A group of fish farmers operating in Agric area of Ojo Local government are calling on the Lagos state government to intervene in their forceful eviction from there farm. The fish farm which is located along the Badagry expressway has been operational for about twenty years on a ten acres of land and has fifty-three fish farmers operating in it.
According to the spokesperson for the fish farmers under the auspices of Ayoola Multipurpose co-operative, Mrs. Bolatito Oyinloye they were forcefully evicted without any prior notice and were given twenty-four hours to vacate the farm with their fishes. This she explained was a big shock as harvesting of fish from a pond is not that easy to unite within such short notice. Mrs. Oyinloye said as the farmers were still contemplating what to do, heavily armed police men and military men stormed the fish farm and told all the farmers to vacate the land with immediate effect.
When our correspondent visited the fish farm it was observed that bulldozers and trucks were seen transporting sand to the farm in preparation for construction. Information gathered also revealed that the land was acquired for the building of a housing estate project. In a phone interview with our correspondent, the caretaker and manager of the fish farm who the fish farmers have been paying to said they were not giving enough information about the sale of the land but alleged that the farmers were aware of the eviction.
The fish farmers said they have been paying rent to the caretaker and were treated as illegal occupants as they were not able to harvest there fishes from the fish pond. This they lamented has rendered them jobless and with no other source of livelihood. The head of the youth fish farmers Chibuike Igwe expressed disappointment that he went into agriculture as he could not get a job after graduating from the university and now his only source of income has been taken from him. He said that how can youths be expected to go into agriculture when they are not encouraged and supported by the society and government. According to him we provide fish to most restaurants and relaxation spots within this area, and as far as Badagry,Mushin, Victoria Island. Most of our customers are now stranded as they have been patronizing this fish farm for years.
The Programme Director of a Non-governmental organization Human and Environment Development Agenda HEDA, Mr. Sulaiman Arigbabu that has been working with the fish farmers in its small scale farmers empowerment Programme appealed to the Lagos Ministry of Agriculture to intervene in the plight of the fish farmers as they contribute to ensuring food security in the state. Mr. Arigbabu urged the state government to relocate the fish farmers and ensure the fish farmers are compensated by the land owner for there losses as most of them are counting there loss because there fishes are dying daily. He also alleged that the policemen stationed to guard the fish farm are also harvesting the fishes from the pond for their personal use.
Reports has it that 70% of food consumed in Nigeria are produced by small scale farmers. It would be necessary for the state government in the situation of the fish farmers who supply fish to residents of the state.