Farmers in the North-West geopolitical zone have recounted their ordeals following the increasing rate of banditry and kidnapping, saying bandits have resorted to taxing them before they can have access to their farms. They said apart from this, most of them have been forced to abandon their farms, adding that except something urgent was done to end banditry; food insecurity would be triggered in the country.
For instance, in Zamfara State, farmers’ associations said bandits had resorted to taxing their members before allowing them to go to their farms. The groups stated that in Kebbi State, the hub of rice farming, that 350 farmers, mostly rice cultivators, had abandoned their farms. They, therefore, warned that the increasing rate of banditry and kidnappings in the North-West geopolitical zone could affect food production in the area by over 50 per cent. Officials of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria and the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria explained problems its members were facing. NAN also reported that 10,000 households, mostly peasant farmers, had been displaced in Zamfara State. 350 farmers abandon farms in six LGAs in Kebbi Also, the Secretary of AFAN in Kebbi State, Muhammad Idris, in an interview with NAN in Birnin Kebbi, said, “Over 350 farmers have been affected as a result of banditry in Danko/Wasagu, Argungu, Yauri, Ngaski, Zuru and Birnin Kebbi local government areas. “Our members, especially rice farmers, have stopped going to their farmlands in those areas for fear of being kidnapped or killed. Rice farming is not like any other farming as it requires constant and close monitoring; you have to be closer and observant of how it grows and the level of water and all that, hence you have to be going to the farm everyday if not, it will not yield positive result,” he said. A farmer, Garba Isah, in Gwadangwaji area of Birinin Kebbi, said due to rampant kidnappings he was unable to go to the farm for sometime out of fear, warning that the situation could trigger food insecurity. Many people in N’West have lost interest in farming – Kaduna AFAN chair Also, AFAN chairman in Kaduna State, Alhaji Nuhu Aminu, said many farmers had lost hope in their farming business due to security concerns in the North-West. “As I am talking to you now, those that are willing to go and cultivate their farmlands are not up to 30 per cent because of fear of kidnapping,” he said. Aminu added that in the last farming season, some farmers were unable to harvest their crops due to security problems. Some villagers in Giwa Local Government Area of the state said because of insecurity, farmers were no longer safe and free to cultivate their farms. A resident of Karau-Karau village in the local government, Mallam Ibrahim Musa, said, “Many of us cannot go to our farms for fear of bandits and this is our main business as villagers; kidnapping has become a common phenomenon in this area.” According to NAN, villages affected by the activities of bandits in Giwa Local Government Area are Fatika, Sabon Sara, Kidandan, Galimawa, Gangara and Iyatawa. Bandits tax Zamfara farmers before allowing them to farm —RIFAN secretary It was a different case in Zamfara State. Farmers in the state chapter of RIFAN said they envisaged 50 per cent reduction in rice and other farm produce in the forthcoming farming season because of the activities of criminals. The RIFAN Secretary in the state, Sanusi Muhammad, said there had been continued decline in agricultural production in the state over the years, which had worsened the poverty level of the people. He stated, “Most of our farmers cannot go to farms due to fear of bandits’ attacks and kidnapping. Bandits send messages of attack to communities or tax farmers large amounts of money before they allow them to go to farms. “Bandits are now the ones who decide whether we go to farms or not, in some areas even if farmers plant crops they cannot cultivate due to insecurity. The situation is unfortunate; most of our members are victims of this ugly situation. “Most of the areas affected by insecurity are areas where we have large numbers of farmers. Some of our farmers producing thousands of bags of grains, not only rice, almost all the crops grow in this state now cannot produce even a quarter of the quantity of food they used to produce.”