Protests, curfew ground fresh food distribution
• Farmers, dealers lose millions of naira in Lagos, Kebbi, Kano
Indications have emerged that farmers and produce dealers have lost fresh foods worth millions of naira to the ongoing protests against the Nigeria Police Force Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), brutality, extra-judicial killing and bad governance.
Two weeks of intense protests in the South, the Federal Capital Territory and counter-protests across some northern states had disrupted smooth distribution of fresh foods such as tomatoes, plantains, vegetables, fruits and other perishable agro-allied products before the road occupation that grounded vehicular movement across the country last week.
Subsequent curfews imposed have compounded the situation in Lagos and some other states and have prevented, therefore, transportation and internal distribution of perishable produce. This has caused post-harvest wastage of tomatoes, plantains, leafy vegetables, watermelons, among others, and outright destruction of produce by hoodlums in Port Harcourt, Lagos, Delta and Abuja worth several millions of naira.
Following the unrest, the chairman, Onion and Other Perishable Items Association at Bayankara in Birnin-Kebbi, Alhaji Umar Basiru, disclosed that farmers and produce dealers had lost over N20 million.
He said this on Saturday while responding to enquiries from our correspondent in Birnin-Kebbi, adding that the recent attacks had affected their business because some of their people who transported farm produce and livestock to Lagos were affected following burning of the vehicles.
Umar also said that they could not transport their goods to Lagos, and could not bring some items back from Lagos to Kebbi State.
He, therefore, said that the crisis had affected prices of items by not less than 10%.
“We are facing a lot of challenges because our people that were in Lagos cannot return and we cannot take our goods to Lagos of east for business, it has cripple our business” he said.
In Kano, tomato farmers are counting their losses following crippled farming and trading activities since about three weeks ago.
At least, five trucks of tomatoes being transported from Kano to South Eastern part of the country were intercepted and set ablaze by EndSARS protesters in Port Harcourt within one week.
Narrating the impact of the ugly incident on farmers in Kano, the Chairman of the National Association of Tomatoes Growers, Kano State chapter, Sani Danladi Yada Kwari, lamented the level of damage, saying it would affect dry season farming in the north.
Sani claimed that destruction of over 10,000 plastic creates of tomatoes during the attacks in the South-East was a havoc too much for the farmers.
He called for urgent intervention to bring the unrest under control, while asking authorities to assist those who were affected during the unrest.
He said: “We have recorded huge economic losses since the protest started across the country. Unfortunately, five of our trucks had already loaded to supply tomatoes to the South-East when the crisis started.
“We have lost no fewer than 10,000 plastic creates of tomatoes as the five vehicles were stuck in the middle of the crisis and the vehicles were burn. This development will definitely affect our market and economy. In fact, many farmers will not engage in dry season production because of this development.”
Again, the Chairman of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Kano State chapter, Mr Abdurasheed Magaji, said, “Actually, as far as the farmers are concerned, we had no problem. But those produce like tomatoes and onions being transported to the south and other parts of the country, as well as livestock such as cattle and sheep and goats, as well as poultry, have been affected adversely.”
He added that, “I cannot make an estimate right now.”