By Safiyanu Ladan
Banditry and kidnapping for ransom have created a sense of fear in many farming communities in North-Western and Central parts of the country. Alas, thousands of farmers are left with no other options than to leave and abandon their farmland uncultivated for some years now for safer and more secure environments, mainly as refugees, in urban areas.
The displacement of farming communities by bandits as a result of incessant attacks which prevented them from tilling their farmland, the abrupt cessation of rainfall, the increase in the price of farm inputs, among others, are listed as the major factors that affect food production in Northern Nigeria.
This has significantly been attributed to the hiking in the price of agricultural produce and will ultimately lead to food insecurity.
In July this year, an official of the United Nations Dr Rhoda Dia, was reported to have warned that an estimated 13 million people in northern Nigeria face the risk of acute food insecurity in the next few months.
The Project Manager, United Nations Development Program – Global Environment Facility (UNDP – GEF), in charge of the Resilient Food Security Project, said the warning had become imperative because the country is facing growing levels of acute food insecurity due to decades of insecurity across the country, saying that the insecurity had resulted in increasing poverty and economic crises.
She, however, stated that the situation had been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic and, recently, the series of clashes between farmers and herders.
According to an agriculturist, the insecurity we’re facing now, especially in the North-Western part of Nigeria, has dramatically affected crop production and will go a long way in enabling food insecurity.
The fact that most of the agricultural activities in northern Nigeria are done by peasant farmers who live in rural areas and have been subjected to unprecedented attacks almost daily by bandits is alarming.
In many aspects, insecurity has affected food production. Naturally, this can be associated with the increase in food price, even though there are other factors like the Covid-19 pandemic, as we can see in other countries. But, still, our peculiar problem that aggravated the situation is the issue of banditry.
While lamenting the security situation, some farmers in one of the most troubled states said bandits had captured more than 30% of their farmlands.
Given the foregoing, the food insecurity is imminent, and it’s so glaring that there’s nothing the government can do about it as it has failed the country.
Safiyanu Ladan writes from Zaria via firstname.lastname@example.org.