Insecurity: Nigerians likely to face food scarcity as farmers avoid going to farms

The first rainfall in Nigeria is expected this month of March, but unlike other years when farmers in the country expressed joy in anticipation of the beginning of the farming season, 2021 seems different with farming activities likely to be marred by increasing insecurity.

Already there are fears that Nigerians may experience scarcity of food this year as many of the farmers in the country especially those in the north and south-west avoid going to farm due to activities of bandits and terrorists.

A resident of Basawa village, Zaria, Kaduna State, Bashir Othman told Businessday yesterday that his community and neighbouring communities pay tax and “harvest fees” to bandits to enable them to access their farmland.

“Let me be honest with you, since last November, our people have stopped going to their farmlands for fear of being kidnapped or killed. Kidnapping has become a common phenomenon in this state and the entire north-west.

“These people (bandits) are the ones that decide whether we go to farms or not, in some areas even if farmers plant crops they cannot cultivate due to insecurity.
“In my village, we pay N600,000 as tax and N800,000 as harvest fees. Other villagers do the same thing. If you don’t pay, they will come to your farm and abduct you. The government is not helping us. We only trust in God for support”, Bashir stated.

Two other farmers, Kasham Moses from Kankara Local government of Katsina State and Ibrahim Mahmood from Birnin Quari, Kaduna State all confirmed payment of taxes to bandits by farmers before accessing farmlands. Kasham, a widow told Businessday that sometimes she gives the bandits farm crops instead of money. But in such cases, she said, the bandits determine the quantity to take. “On 3rd January 2021, they forced me to part with 5 bags of millet because I hadn’t enough money usually N400 to 500 thousand Naira to pay them.”, she explained

On September 27, 2020, suspected bandits killed five farmers at Yanteba village in Malumfashi Local Government Area of Katsina State. And on November 30, 2020, another seven farmers, including a nursing mother, were killed and 30 other villagers abducted in three communities of Tashar Bama, Dogun Muazu and Unguwar Maigayya villages, all in Sabuwa Local Government Area of Katsina State.

A member of the Katsina State House of Assembly representing the area, Ibrahim Danjuma Machika, confirmed the killings on the floor of the House while sponsoring a motion for the reinforcement of security in some villages in his constituency. He said the security agencies appeared helpless over the situation.

Apart from being the largest producer of cotton in the country, Katsina State is also known for the production of millet, guinea corn, groundnut, maize, beans, rice and wheat.
Equally worrisome was the gruesome massacre of innocent rice farmers in Zabarmari, Jere Local Government, of Borno State by terrorists in December, 2020. The forty-three (43) farmers were allegedly slaughtered without any intervention by the security forces in the area. In Kaduna, Sokoto, and Kebbi the situations are the same

Early this year, three farmers were slaughtered in Ijugbere axis of Owo Local Government Area (LGA) of Ondo State following an attack on a community.

To wade off the bandits, the Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, on January 18 this year, gave seven days ultimatum to herdsmen to immediately vacate forest reserves within the state. But the order generated several controversies as even the president argued that ”insecurity is not alien to any group, the language they speak, their geographical location or their faith.”

Reacting to the sad development, Gabriel Uwalaka, an agricultural economist described the situation as pathetic. Said he: “Today in Nigeria, it can be chiefly said that nowhere is safe. The home, the farms and the roads are not safe. Everyone lives in fear of the known. The person you see today, you may see no more.

“That is the pathetic story of Nigeria of our time. Terrorists, bandits, kidnappers and armed robbers roam about the streets and bushes freely, unchallenged. Nigerians are tired of excuses by the military authorities after collecting trillions of Naira to fight insurgency in the country. Wanton killing of farmers and destruction of farm products have adverse effects on both our livelihood and food security. Without farmers there would be famine with obvious consequences”, Uwalaka said.

Observers are worried at the rate of banditry, kidnapping for ransom, unemployment, rape and all forms of terrorisms have become the new normal in our communities. Nigerians have become so much terrified, as nowhere is safe; the home, the farms and the roads. Bandits rule in many communities, they set rules that must be obeyed.
Unfortunately, the common man is now caught in-between two contending phenomenon; when he goes to the farm, he gets killed and when he stays at home he dies of hunger.

For how long, Nigerians would continue to live in fear remains unknown. Experts advise president Muhammadu Buhari to rise to the occasion by overhauling his security architecture. The earlier this is done, they argue, the more lives would be saved, food crops salvaged and the national economy strengthened.

Read Previous

Foodstuff Supply Blockade: AFAN blames institutional failure, inequity

Read Next

Nigerian-Dutch Centre partners CBN, Agric Ministry to host dairy development webinar

Leave a Reply