AAs the farming season begins in Taraba State, farmers have called on the state government and security agencies to urgently address the cases of banditry to enable farmers to carry out their businesses unhindered.
They also called on the government to address the high cost of fertilizers and diesel, as well as other agricultural inputs.
A representative sample of farmers in the state, who made the call in an interview with Daily Trust on Sunday said farming activities would drastically reduce this farming season if the government did not take urgent action to deal with the rate of banditry in the state, particularly in Gassol, Karim-Lamido, Bali, Gashaka and Ardo-Kola local government areas.
One of the farmers, Alhaji Yakubu Inuwa, said bandits had already taken over many farming communities in Karim-Lamido, Gassol and Bali and it would be difficult for many of them to get to their homes. closed this season.
He said many farmers were abducted from communities while working on their farms and others shortly after harvesting their crops during the last harvest period.
He added that in the Gassol region, herders destroyed and burned many rice fields estimated at 150 million naira.
Another farmer, Umar Galadima, said he was afraid to go to his farms in many local government areas of the state for fear of being kidnapped.
He said that over the past three years many farmers have been kidnapped while working on their farms and millions of naira have been paid as ransom.
Galadima further said that many farming communities in north and central Taraba are facing an increasing rate of kidnappings and as a result many farmers are afraid to go to their farms this harvest season.
“It is very dangerous to go to the farms in most farming communities in Gassol, Gashaka, Bali and Ardo Kola because bandits have taken over the areas and are terrorizing the villages,” he said.
He said many farmers have been forced to sell their produce to secure the release of family members kidnapped by bandits.
He also said the high rate of kidnappings has forced many residents of farming communities in the state to relocate to other locations unaffected by banditry, which could affect farming activities in many parts of the state. State.
“There was a first farmer from Jalingo town who was cultivating a big farm in one of the communities but unfortunately a few weeks before the harvest he was kidnapped and all his agricultural products were sold for ransom for his release And since then he has never entered Shut up,” he said.
Galadima added that there were several cases of farmers kidnapped from many villages and their products sold to secure their release.
He said kidnappings and the high cost of agricultural inputs hamper farming activities; and this has a negative impact on food security.
A female large-scale farmer, Hajiya Rabi Yusuf, noted that apart from threats from bandits, there is also the case of the high cost of diesel, fertilizer and other agricultural inputs.
She said last year a liter of diesel was sold at 350 Naira but now it is 750 Naira.
Rabi noted that a farm for which a tractor was hired to work at 150,000 Naira last year would now cost 320,000 Naira to hire the service of a tractor this farming season.
She revealed that a bag of NPK fertilizer and urea, which cost between 7,000 and 10,000 Naira last year, is now between 12,000 and 17,000 Naira this agricultural season.
She also said prices for agrochemicals for weed and pest control, as well as improved seeds, had doubled this agricultural season.
“We have a bad situation, so if we are not careful, many farmers would not be able to engage in agricultural activities this season,” she said.
She also said that the cases of kidnapping and banditry, as well as the high cost of agricultural inputs, must be addressed by both the Taraba State Government and the Federal Government to enable agriculture to thrive. continue statewide.
Taraba Police Command spokesman DSP Usman Abdullahi said the command was doing its best to deal with banditry and kidnapping cases across the state.
The state agriculture commissioner, Mr David Kassa, said the high cost of fertilizers was linked to the rise in the exchange rate, adding that the state government had purchased small tractors that were easy to use and profitable for farmers. to acquire and operate.