78,120 farmers abandon food production in Borno, Taraba, others
• As attacks by insurgents, bandits persist
• 70,000 hectares of arable land abandoned
• Despair with no succour in sight
No fewer than 78,000 farmers in Borno, Katsina, Taraba, Plateau and other states in the north have abandoned their farmland as a result of attacks by Boko Haram terrorists, bandits and herdsmen.
About 56,000 Internally Displaced Households (IDH) farmers from 28 communities in Borno State, who cultivated about 95,000 metric tonnes of crops yearly, have lost no less than 504,000 metric tonnes of food since 2015.
Before their displacement, the farmers engaged in wet and dry season farming and fishing, cultivated no less than 56,000 hectares of land and got an average of 1.5 metric tonnes of grains per hectare.
But since 2015, they have consistently lost their produce to Boko Haram insurgents.
The total number of farmers in 56,000 displaced Borno households is about 1.5 million people, currently taking refuge at 24 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps, The Guardian has learnt.
Some of the camps are in Monguno, Damboa, Gwoza, Pulka, Dikwa and Gambouru, a border community with Cameroon, Bakassi, Gubio and Dalori in Maiduguri metropolis, with IDPs coming from the affected 18 local government areas of the state.
The six-year losses of sorghum, maize, beans and groundnuts have depleted the food basket of the country and incomes of the displaced farmers.
Abubakar Sugun, a 52-year-old farmer from Kukawa Local Government Area taking refuge at Gubio IDP camp, told The Guardian: “Boko Haram insurgents not only killed my relations and friends, they torched our house and farmlands with crops yet to be harvested.
“We had to flee for safety in 2014 with my wife and five children to Maiduguri IDPs camp,” he said.
He lamented he could not go back to Kukawa to cultivate his eight-acre (approximately 2.5 hectares) farmland.
Before he fled to Maiduguri, he had produced millet, maize and beans to feed his family and to sell.
At the Bakassi IDPs camp, Fadmatu Musa, a farmer from Gwoza and mother of seven children, told The Guardian, before insurgency begun in 2013, she produced 24 bags of groundnuts, beans and sesame seeds from seven acres of farmland but had been frustrated by insurgency.
While lamenting his loss, Abubakar Musa, 59, an IDP from Pulka, a border community with Cameroon, said for the six years spent in Bakassi camp, he could have produced over 240 bags (24 tonnes) of sorghum, beans and groundnuts.
He said each year, before the insurgency commenced in August 2014, he produced 40 bags of beans, groundnuts and sorghum from 10 acres of farmland.
The Bakassi Camp Manager, Ibrahim Salihu, said there were 6,664 male household farmers and 13,464 female household farmers as of yesterday.
The displaced farmers are from Marte, Monguno, Nganzai, Guzamala and Gwoza Local Government Areas.
While the Manager, Gubio IDP camp, Musa Sembe, stated he had a record of 16,600 household farmers displaced from Gubio, Bama, Ngala, Kala/Balge, Marte, Gwoza, Kukawa, Konduga, Abadam and Monguno; Dalori IDP Camp Manager, Babagana Baba, said about 20,000
displaced farmers from Bama and Monguno councils and Baga town had yet to return to their communities.
IN Taraba State, over 16,000 farmers are in various camps, while others are taking refuge in host communities.
The state Deputy Chairman, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria, Daniel Gani, said their dreams of beating last year’s record in rice production had been frustrated since “over 80 per cent of farmers have been displaced.”
The farmer, who gave his name as Salihu Umar, said: “With these figures, you can now see hectares of land would be left uncultivated this time round.”
IN Katsina State, the spokesman for the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Mohammed Umar, said the state has two IDP camps, one in Faskari and the other in Batsari local government areas.
The Faskari camp has 2,640 people, while the Batsari camp has 2,480 people.
Some farmers, who spoke with The Guardian, said insecurity had affected farming activities, especially in frontline council areas.
The council areas include Faskari, Batsari, Sabuwa, Safana, Jibia, Danmusa, Kankara, and Dandume.
The President, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Kabir Ibrahim, in an interview, said it would be difficult to quantify the loss farmers and farming were facing as a result of insecurity.
Ibrahim said most farmers were unable to go to farms and would not be able to do so until security situation improves.
“Any farmland beyond a kilometre from the headquarters of these council areas cannot be accessed by farmers as they risk being abducted, killed or meeting other ills from bandits.
“The loss that has taken place in abandoned farmland, loss of farm produce and revenue for the farmers can only be imagined as the loss is huge,” he said.
MEANWHILE, there appears to be no succour in sight for farmers in the Bassa Local Council Area of Plateau State as over 200 women have become widows, over 400 children have become orphans and over 1,000 displaced.
It is estimated that no fewer than 70,000 hectares of arable farmland have been abandoned in the affected states and local government areas.
These challenges, experts say, pose serious threats to food sufficiency in Nigeria.