Posted by News Express | 12 December 2020 | 823 times
Stakeholders in the security and agricultural sector have warned that Nigeria may witness a significant rise in food prices by 2021 following the ‘sporadic rise’ in violence in the country which has forced farmers to abandon their harvest.
Dr. Ndubuisi Nwokolo, Partner and Chief Executive, Nextier SPD, while raising the alarm over the impending food crises said a recent research conducted by Nextier in Nasarawa, Niger and Zamfara states found that food prices may rise by 110% if government does not take immediate action to wedge it.
He said this at a stakeholders’ meeting on wedging the impending food insecurity in Nigeria in Abuja, organised by Nextier SPD and Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Foundation.
Nwokolo regretted that farmers are becoming the worse victim of the violence, are being deliberately targeted by the insurgents. He said this while citing the recent gruesome execution of over 43 farmers by the unrelenting Boko Haram terrorists.
The expert also recalled that in November more than 25 rural farmers mostly women were Kidnapped and one person killed in both Rafi and Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State. This according to him, has instilled fears on farmers especially women and small holder farmers and forced them to abandon their farmlands.
He stressed that “the massacre of Zabarmari farmers is similar to what many are facing in the North-West region where bandits are firmly in control of the rural and agrarian communities.”
In recent years, he said, Zamfara State and some other states in the North-West region are witnessing a sporadic rise of banditry. Attacks on civilians are strife as rural crop farmers and pastoralists are the primary targets of the increasingly menacing violence.
“Multiple accounts hold that bandits have targeted farmers and their farmlands during planning and harvesting seasons – destroying crops in the waves of attacks. Bandits are reportedly levying farmers before they can harvest their crops,” Nwokolo added.
Nwokolo stated that as the state trends on ‘degrading’ non-state armed groups, violent conflict is expected to continue significantly disrupting livelihood activities for most households in rural communities.
According to the Nextier SPD boss, looting and fear of attacks will keep many farmers from working in their fields, leading to the loss of harvests and productive assets, and extremely reduced purchasing power.
While banditry, terrorism drive food insecurity in the North, Nwokolo said in the southwest and other parts of the country, residents have witnessed killings of rural farmers by armed groups. He added that communal conflict, cult killings, robbery attacks kidnappings persist across the regions.
Nwokolo said in addition to the maelstrom of violence, massive floods have ravaged crop farms in many parts of the country. According to him, farmlands were reportedly washed away by floods in Kebbi, Zamfara, Niger, Cross River, Rivers, Niger, Sokoto, Bauchi and some parts of Kwara State.
This situation implies reduced agricultural yield for 35% of the Nigeria population involved in the agricultural sector.
“Therefore, there is an urgent need now, more than ever before to focus on the impact of insecurity on the availability of food and proffer pragmatic solutions to these mounting conflict issues,” he stressed.
At the workshop, stakeholders called on government to develop deliberate policies that will enhance farmers access to their farms, while noting that the current policies of the government have bot achieved the desired results.
They specifically urged government to deliberately develop a security architecture for agricultural communities, such that farmers will be provided accurate security when in their farmlands just as government did for the mining communities.
Dr. Uche Igwe, Visiting fellow, Firoz LaLji Centre for Africa, London School of Economics, UK, also called for more collaboration among stakeholders working to proffer solutions on the situation.
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