Sustained attacks on farmers, climate impact Nigeria’s food reserves: Report

*The United Nations discloses that COVID-19 pandemic, violence and climate change combine to put North-Eastern Nigeria at the risk of famine

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

Recent rising attacks, wanton destruction, and killing of Nigerian farmers have all been identified as negative effects on Nigeria’s food reserves in recent times.

The All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) disclosed that the country’s stocks declined to less than 30,000 metric tonnes, which is a fraction of what Nigeria’s 200 million people actually require in terms of food and nutrition security.

Kabir Ibrahim, President of AFAN, said in a recent interview that increasing insecurity across the country is fast making it difficult to augment these food supplies, agency report said.

It was also learnt that food growers are being assaulted on at least three fronts.

According to report, the latest attack took place November 27 when alleged Boko Haram Islamist insurgents killed at least 67 subsistence rice growers in Borno State, North-Eastern Nigeria.

Now, an insurgency that has raged for more than a decade is reportedly compounding agricultural production challenges resulting from factors such as climate change.

In view of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the North-Eastern Nigeria is at the risk of famine, according to the United Nations (UN) November 2020.

The UN noted that parts of the population in the North-East region are already facing “critical hunger”.

Report says besides the Islamist attacks on farmers, food production is being disrupted by a long-running conflict between crop growers and Northern cattle herders, who are being forced by desertification to seek grazing pasture further South.

The President of AFAN, whose group represents most of the nation’s 12 million farmers, stated: “This worrying trend poses food security risks to millions of Nigerians.

“It is now exceedingly difficult to get the farmers to readily go to their farms in several parts of the country.”

In grain-producing states like Zamfara, Katsina and Kaduna, armed bandits extort so-called harvest fees from farmers before allowing them to reap their crops.

Similar demands are made on farmers in the states of Katsina and Kaduna, where they face being kidnapped if they fail to pay the ransoms that average about 1 million Naira ($3,000) in cash or 40% of their produce, according to report.

Alhaji Nuhu Dansadau, a farmer in Zamfara State, said: “There are even places where they take over the farm.

“For instance if you have produced 200 bags of corn, they will instruct you to go and sell 30 or 50 bags and bring the money to them.”

In the meantime, the attacks are fuelling inflation, as food costs increase in the country. Costs started increasing in 2019, when the government shut its borders to curb smuggling of rice and other products.

Food prices rose 17.4% in October from a year earlier ─the biggest increase in three years.

The Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has said that “the continued increase in food and core inflation was attributed to the persistence of insecurity across the country.”

President Muhammadu Buhari’s efforts at helping the country to achieve food self-sufficiency are also being undermined, said the report.

Since 2015, the current administration in the country has implemented measures aimed at promoting local production.

These, according to report, include increasing taxes on imported grains, blocking food importers’ requests for foreign currency, and establishing a N200 billion ($511 million) intervention fund for rice growers.

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