Farms of famine in our land
Sir: Hunger in Nigeria is not only a metaphoric reality. In many ways, it is powerfully literal.
Many Nigerians are not just hungry for adequate social services, public goods and everything else that make for a content citizenry, they are hungry for food. In a country where food security has been a mirage for years, the nightmare has been all too real for many, including children.
According to a recent report titled Hunger Hotspots: FAO-FWP early warnings on acute food insecurity (June to September 2022 Outlook), the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Food Programme starkly warned that acute food insecurity is likely to deteriorate further in 20 countries or situations (including two regional clusters) – called hunger hotspots- during the outlook period from June to September 2022.
The report warned that global food insecurity continues to escalate. Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen remain at the highest alert level. About 19.5 million people are projected to be in crisis or worse levels of acute insecurity in Nigeria during the lean season (June–August 2022), including 1.2 million people in an emergency if humanitarian interventions are not scaled up or sustained.
Perhaps, apart from the biting effects of climate change, it is insecurity that continues to fuel food insecurity in Nigeria more than any other factor.
As terrorism has continued to surge into many of Nigeria`s rural communities, farmers have been killed, stopped from farming entirely or forced to hand over meagre proceeds from their agricultural activities to terrorists.
Multiple attacks on farmers in Nigeria`s rural communities are well documented. In November 2020, in Zabarmari, about 70 farmers were killed in attacks by terrorists who beheaded at least 30 of them in attacks which sent shockwaves across the country. In December 2021, at least 45 farmers were killed as hostilities were renewed in Lafia, Obi and Awe local councils of Nasarawa State.
In May 2022, more than 50 farmers were massacred when terrorists thought to belong to ISWAP invaded farmlands on the outskirts of Kala Balge Local Council of Borno State. When in May 2022, about seven farmers defied warnings not to go to their farms by bandits, seven of them were slaughtered.
On Wednesday, June 22, 2022, scores of gunmen attacked farms in Rafin Daji, a farming community in Abaji Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, where they killed two persons and whisked away 21 others who included men, women and children who were on their farmlands during the day. The sum of N12 million has reportedly been demanded by the attackers who were said to be Fulani herdsmen. The police have confirmed that the victims were on their farms when they were attacked and carried away.
The insecurity ravaging the country was always going to permeate every area of national life if nothing was done to halt it. With each passing day, attempts to defuse terrorism have continued to grow ever more feeble.
There is no doubt that with attacks on rural communities growing by the day, many communities, families and their children will continue to be ravaged by hunger.
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