Food crisis to worsen as bandits kill, kidnap 352 farmers in 12 months


At least 352 farmers have been killed and kidnapped in 12 months amid the rising insecurity in Nigeria, a tally by The PUNCH has shown. The 352 comprised 216 killed farmers and 136 kidnapped farmers.

The figures were obtained from the Nigeria Security Tracker, a project of the Council on Foreign Relations’ Africa, as well as media reports.

The Council on Foreign Relations is a United States non-profit think tank specialising in US foreign policy and international affairs. It is headquartered in New York City, with an additional office in Massachusetts

The figure exceeds 352 as there were cases of killings and kidnappings of farmers with unknown numbers.

Farmers have been under serial attacks across the country, fuelling fear of acute food shortage if the government does not intervene proactively, The PUNCH has learnt.

Across the six geo-political zones, findings revealed that farmers were abandoning their farmsteads, plantations, orchards, and processing factories amid the spate of armed invasion, kidnapping, and attacks.

According to findings by our correspondent, the most affected states are Plateau, Nasarawa, Oyo, Niger, Zamfara, Borno, and Ondo.

In January, 13 farmers were killed, with seven executed by bandits in Niger State while many were injured. Three farmers were killed in Oyo State, one in Osun State and two others in Kaduna State. There was a sad case of kidnappers killing an Ibadan farmer despite collecting N1.65m ransom from the family. On January 30, it was reported that farmers fled as herdsmen allegedly attack Igangan in Oyo State.

In February, a total of 20 killings and kidnappings were recorded, with 12 feared killed in Bassa, Plateau State during a farmers-herders clash.

In Edo State, it was reported that herdsmen killed three farmers, setting farmlands worth N600m ablaze. It was also reported that Fulani herdsmen killed three farmers in Ondo State.

In March, a total of 15 cases of killing and kidnapping were reported. According to media reports, gunmen on motorcycles killed four farmers in an Oyo community, while three others were abducted in another community in Ibadan, Oyo State. In Plateau, three were reportedly killed while farm crops were destroyed in Bassa.

In April, 14 farmers were killed, with nine farmers shot dead in Nasarawa State while gunmen killed three other farmers in Taraba State. Twice, Fulani herdsmen were reported to have hacked down farmers in the Ibarapa North Local Government Area of Oyo State.

In May, it was reported that bandits killed eight farmers in a Zamfara State community.

In June, a total of 33 killings and kidnappings were reported, with 12 farmers killed as bandits attacked Zamfara communities. In Benue State, suspected herders ambushed farmers and killed 11 persons in two different communities. In Niger, communal clash over farmland claimed three lives, with several houses burnt.

In July, a total of 10 killings and kidnappings were recorded, with gunmen abducting four farmers in Ekiti State and demanding N50m, while suspected herders killed five Tiv farmers in Nasarawa State.

In August, a total of 16 killings and kidnappings occurred, with bandits killing eight farmers in Kaduna, while unknown gunmen killed five farmers in Ile-Ife, Osun State.

In September, a total of 57 killings and kidnappings occurred, which included the alleged killing of 50 fishermen by Nigeria airstrike in Borno State as reported on September 26. The total number of kidnappings is likely higher as it was reported on September 6 that Fulani herdsmen abducted an unknown number of farmers In Kwara State.

There seemed to be no reported case of killings or kidnappings of farmers in October. However, in November, a total of 78 killings and kidnappings occurred. It was reported that the Islamic State West Africa Province fighters held 76 farmers, hostage, for two days in Borno State. The insurgents had reportedly warned the farmers in the area against burning shrubs and thickets for harvest as it often give the ISWAP fighters cover from Nigerian troops. Also, in Bassa, Plateau, it was reported that Fulani herdsmen killed two farmers.

In December, the highest number of cases was recorded as a total of 88 killings and kidnappings were reported. About 36 farmers were kidnapped by bandits at Jangali Bagoma, a border town between the Birnin Gwari Local Government Area of Kaduna State and Niger State. It was also reported that at least 45 people were killed in renewed hostilities in Lafia, in the Obi and Awe local government areas of Nasarawa State.

Food security is one of the 14 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. The United Nations Development Programme stated that to achieve food security by 2030, each country must “double the agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers, in particular women, indigenous peoples, family farmers, pastoralists and fishers, including through secure and equal access to land.”

However, due to the rising cases of insecurity across the country, there seems to be a looming food crisis, which may begin to manifest in 2022, according to analysts.

The Federal Government in its National Development Plan 2021 – 2025 admitted that food insecurity is a major concern, noting that food security, which is essential for development, declined in the country.

The plan document read in part, “Food insecurity is also a major concern to the government and the various stakeholders. Food security is a prerequisite for development…

“Nigeria’s food security index declined from 46.5 in 2017 to 40.1 in 2020, while the hunger index averaged 29.4. This can be connected with security-induced supply constraints issues, causing food prices to rise. Food inflation rose from an average of 14.4 per cent in 2018 to 16.11 per cent in 2020.”

The government admitted that there was a gap in service provision in terms of food and nutrition, adding a rising security issue was threatening food supply and increasing uncertainty around food prices.

“Although the National Plan of Action for Food and Nutrition was instituted in 2004, Nigeria has not been able to bridge the gaps in the service provisioning, quality, and outcomes as envisioned in the plan.

“Some of the key challenges experienced in this sector include rising security issues threatening food supply and the uncertainty around food prices,” it read in part.

The Federal Government, however, plans to address food insecurity issues in the country and achieve nutrition security in vulnerable communities.

The government aims that the country’s food security index will be 60.1 by 2025, from 40.1 as of 2020. It also plans to reduce the prevalence of severe food insecurity from 19.6 per cent in 2020 to 10 per cent by 2025.

It is expected that the rising cases of killing and kidnapping of farmers may affect this goals if the government fails to address the problems. (Punch)

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