The Chairman, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) in Niger, Alhaji Shehu Galadimawa, has called on the Federal and Niger Governments to tackle the incessant attacks by bandits in the state.
Galadima made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday in Minna.
According to him, tackling insecurity in rural areas will enable many farmers to go back to their ancestral farmlands, currently occupied by the bandits, for the 2020 farming season.
“Right now, many farmers are staying in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps across the state because of the series of attacks by bandits who kidnap for ransoms.
“When the poor farmers and the communities cannot pay the ransom, they get killed.
“These bandits commit all kinds of atrocities in the name of extorting money and other material things from the locals, who are mainly farmers.
“The bandits even rape women and steal farm produce,’’ he said.
Galadima said that tackling insecurity in the affected rural areas would enable the farmers to have access to their arable farmlands.
“The farming season has just started.
“So, if the menace is tackled, it will enhance farming activities and there will be increased in food production.
“All these will lead to food sufficiency in Niger state and the country at large,’’ he said.
NAN recalls that since 2015 Local Government Areas such as Shiroro, Paiko Munya, Rafi, Tafa, Gurara, Mariga, Mashegu, Lapai and Borgu had been under the siege of bandits.
The bandits had been attacking communities, dispossessing people of their monies and other valuables as well as kidnapping them for ransom.
The federal and Niger governments had been collaborating with the security agencies to tackle the bandits, who still regroup to attack the areas.
Mrs Grace Disa, the state Coordinator of the Smallholder Women Farmers Organisation of Nigeria (SWOFON), had earlier told NAN that coronavirus pandemic, insecurity, inadequate funding and lack of government support were some of the challenges facing women farmers in the state.
SWOFON, with over 10,228 registered members in the state, is a coalition of women farmer groups across Nigeria, representing over 500,000 grassroots women farmers.
NAN further recalls that in order to tackle the challenges of all categories of farmers in Niger, the state government, on June 4, inaugurated the 2020 farming season.
The government also provided subsidies for essential farming inputs such as fertilisers, improved seedlings and agro-chemicals to all farmers in the state including women farmers.