How Taraba killings impair farmers’ productivity, food security
Citizens have expressed worry that bloodlettings between the Tiv and the Jukun ethnic groups in Taraba State may lead to a shortage of food in the state, as farmers and other agro-allied industry players have been displaced.
The clashes have led to killings, destruction of properties, farm produce and displacement of people whose major occupation is farming.
The crisis, which began in Ananum village in Takum Local Government area, has spilt over to the entire five local government areas of the southern geographical zone of the state and has extended to the central zone. The situation has compelled farmers and produces traders to flee for safety.
Despite deaths recorded so far, some of the farmers who are now taking refuge in various Internally Displaced Persons’ (IDPs) camps in Gassol Local Government said that the authorities could not wade in to halt the spread of the crisis, which is currently threatening farming and co-existence of the people.
The majority of the farmers believe that the dream of the state government to make the state a food basket of the nation is a mirage. The displaced, who observed the inaction of the government as a major reason for the prolonged crisis, felt sad that their only means of livelihood (farming) has been cut off by militias, who they said had taken over their farmlands.
Narrating his ordeal, Telumu Uja, who claimed to have cultivated several hectares of land before the crisis, said: “As I am talking with you now, all that I planted on the land, including yam and corn, have all been destroyed.”
He said: “Apart from my house that was destroyed and two children that were killed, all the yam seedlings I have in stock were burnt to ashes by these militias who have been going after us.”
Uja called on relevant authorities to map out plans that would enable them to return to their homes to continue farming.
According to him, “Our most important need now is shelter, food, water and security. So, what we are asking the government to do is helping us in rebuilding all our houses, and deploying more security operatives to our communities so as to enable us to start our farming from the scratch again.”
70-year-old Tarveshima Peter, with tears, told our correspondent that “all that I invested in my farms have been destroyed.”
Peter, who said he collected loans from a bank and invested in his farm, said: “My major concern now is how to repay the loans I obtained from the bank because all my hopes have been dashed as my farm produces were destroyed.”
Calling on the government to come to his aide and that of his affected colleagues, he said the situation “can force some of us to commit suicide because I am so confused and depressed now.”
Though the state government claimed to have been working to end the killings, their best seems not to have been yielding positive results.
Citing the numerous peace moves initiated by the state government, the Senior Special Assistance to Governor Darius Ishaku on Media and Publicity Matters, Bala Dan Abu, said the government was doing everything it could to end the killings and destruction of properties.