The All-Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) in Niger has said that the security challenges facing the state may lead to food shortages, if not tackled by the government, as farmers were unable to access their farms.
Alhaji Shehu Galadima, the state AFAN Chairman, stated this on Monday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Minna.Galadima said that suspected bandits and kidnappers had been laying siege on many farm locations and communities across the state since 2020, preventing farmers from accessing their fertile farms in the forest areas.
“As far as AFAN is concerned, insecurity has been our main problem for some time now in Niger state. Insecurity increased right from 2020 stopping our farmers from accessing the real fertile lands in the forest areas.
“After cultivation in 2020, the bandits prevented our farmers from harvesting their farm produce; unless you pay ransom or give them half of what you harvested before you are allowed to go,” he said.
He said that many of the farmers were kidnapped last year and huge ransoms paid before they were freed.while some of them lost their lives and some women farmers raped.
“Many of our members are still in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps across the state since 2020.
“They attempted going back to their homes, to enable them return to their farms, but the bandits will not allow them,” he said.
The AFAN chairman expressed concern over the menace, saying that if the federal and state governments failed to stop the kidnappings and banditry, there may be food shortage in the state which may also affect the country at large.
“There may be food shortage this year in Niger state and Nigeria, which will result in hunger and starvation if nothing is done to stop bandits and kidnappers from unleashing mayhem on our rural communities,” he said.
He noted that activities of the suspected bandits had impoverished many farmers, as they continued to pay ransoms with the little funds they had set aside for their farming activities.
“You know that the rural farmers find it difficult to access loans and grants due to the bottlenecks surrounding the interventions,” he said.
Galadima also called on the government to train the agro-rangers to help security agencies to secure the rural areas and forests against activities of the bandits.
He said that there was need for Nigerians, irrespective of tribe and religion, to rise against insecurity across the country and not to leave it to government alone to enable the people return to normal their lives.
NAN recalls that Mrs Grace Disa, the state Coordinator, Smallholder Women Farmers Organisation of Nigeria (SWOFON), recently told the agency in an interview that insecurity had prevented many women farmers from going to the farm.
Disa also stressed that insecurity may result in food crisis because farmers had abandoned their farm lands in the forests, having been occupied by marauding bandits.
“We have vast fertile lands in the forests, if nothing is done regarding insecurity we may experience food scarcity this year,” she said.
NAN reports that security challenges, such as kidnapping for ransom, rape, banditry and other forms of criminality, had recently become a serious source of concern to the state, which boasts of 1.6 million registered farmers under the aegis of AFAN. (NAN)