- Farmers lament loss of colleagues in Katsina
- Ask FG to end threat to lives, investment
Francis Sardauna in Katsina
The nefarious activities of armed bandits and kidnappers in Katsina and Zamfara States, among others, may stoke unprecedented food crisis nationwide if not promptly nipped in the bud, some crop farmers in the north have warned.
The farmers have equally decried the loss of their colleagues to armed bandits and kidnappers in Katsina State, lamenting that between January and April alone, scores of innocent farmers have been killed on their farms.
They expressed concern about the activities of armed bandits in separate interviews with THISDAY at the weekend, noting that there was no way the affected states would not experience food scarcity because farmers were running away from their farms.
Besides, they lamented that the activities of armed bandits and kidnappers would not only lead to food scarcity and hunger, but would also have grave economic implications on the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
One of the farmers in Batsari Local Government Area, Katsina State, Mr. Bala Halisu explained that the activities of bandits and kidnappers in the northern states “have been impacting negatively on agricultural production and food security.”
He said many farmers “are apprehensive of entering their farms. We cannot go about our activities freely during dry season. We no longer feel safe and secure on our farms.
“By now, farmers in Katsina State are supposed to have started clearing lands for the next cropping season. But most of us are taking refuge in our relatives’ houses in Katsina town. We do not know when we will return home and start farming.”
Halisu, therefore, urged the federal government to protect their lives, property and investment, which he said, had been the target of armed bandits and kidnappers.
According to him, except urgent measures are taken by the federal government and state governments in curbing the killings in the state, it might result to scarcity of food items and famine.
A rice farmer in Safana Local Government Area, Katsina State, Alhaji Aliyu Babangida Maishikafa noted that there would be a great shortage of farm and food produce because most farmers could not currently access their farms.
Maishikafa added that food crisis “is imminent because farmers cannot access their farms. There will not be much farming activities in major parts of the north. Consequently, there will be shortage of food towards the end of 2019.
“Many farmers have been killed. Communities have been destroyed. Hundreds of farmers and pastoralists have lost their lives and property in an extended act of killings and destruction by well-armed bandits terrorising us.
“The deadly attacks have scared farmers away from their farms. So, many farms have been abandoned as a result of fear of being killed or abducted by bandits,” he said.
He stated that the rate at which the bandits committed these crimes had increased exponentially and that the crimes were thwarting the state’s economic development to an enormous extent.
An economist and lecturer at the Department of Economics, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua University, Katsina State, lamented the lingering banditry and incessant kidnapping, which according to him, would greatly affect the economic activities of the state.
The lecturer said the ugly trend “has started discouraging many people from going into farming. It, thus, poses a danger to the economy of the state and the food security. It also causes extreme poverty, high unemployment rate, economic downturn as well as poor market performance.”
He, however, urged the federal government “to tackle youth unemployment; encourage effective community policing; equip the police and military to prevent the menace and other insecurity problems from further deteriorating.”
Also on the armed banditry, the Chairman of All Farmers Association (AFAN), Katsina State, Alhaji Umar Ya’u, described the rising spate of banditry and kidnapping bedeviling local farmers in the state as disturbing and worrisome.
He said farmers “have become endangered species on their farms and even their homes. Those who are successful in the enterprise are not safe even in their houses. They have all become targets of armed bandits and kidnappers alongside their families.
He explained that some farmers “are quitting farming altogether. The distance they have to cover from their homes to the farms also put them at disadvantage and at risk of kidnapping because most farms are in isolated locations.
“Unless this problem is properly addressed, farming activities will not hold in Katsina. Therefore, I am calling on the federal and state government to evolve means of ending the menace to enable our members to return to farmers,” Ya’u suggested.
Meanwhile, the Katsina State Deputy Governor, Alhaji Mannir Yakubu admitted that security challenges facing the farmers, but assured them that everything would be done to nip armed banditry and kidnapping in the bud.
Yakubu, who also supervises the Ministry of Agriculture, said the state government in synergy with federal government would send agro rangers to farms and farmland to guard farmers and pastoralists against any form of security threats.
The deputy governor disclosed that the state government had provided all the needed security apparatus and financial supports to security agencies in the state to curtail the threat.
He, therefore, urged farmers “not to panic, but go about with their farming activities. With the intervention of federal and state governments, the country will not experience food crisis.”