As the crisis among Herders and Farmers increasingly becomes unabated, farmers are losing lives, which has forced many of them to abandon their farmlands, losing crops and revenues.
MAWA FOUNDATION in this Special Report examined the impact of Herder’s crisis on the farmers and its implication on food security.
In this Special Report, MAWA interviewed farmers to gauge the impact of herder’s crisis on them. The farmer who spoke to MAWA FOUNDATION at the Orhionmwon Local Government Area of Edo state recounted how they lost their farmlands and revenues to Herder’s crisis.
Farmers in Abudu, Iru, Ugboko-niro, Oheze-naka, Igbanke, Ugo-Inekorionmwon, Iguelaba, Evbuobanosa, and Oben, communities in Edo State who spoke to MAWA, say they were forced to abandon their farms because of the frequent attacks from the Herdsmen who have taken over their farmlands to graze their cattle.
They, however, said despite bringing the government awareness into the development, nothing was done to protect them, while the herders are allowed to carry out attacks on them unchallenged.
According to Mr. Simon Agbonavbare, Head of the Farmers Association in the Ugo-nirokorionmwon community, the herders had threatened them to stay away from their farms.
“We went to borrow money for farming, to have money to eat and train our children. Our yams and cocoa yams that have been harvested, herders give it to their cows to eat and the ones they cannot eat they destroy”, Agbonavbare told MAWA.
Also at Abudu community, the administrative headquarters of the local government, a farmer (now food vendor), Mrs. Mary Odigie said she had to quit farming, over the incessant destruction of her crops by the herders.
“After the herders destroyed my five hectares of cassava, I was forced to quit farming,” Mrs. Odigie told MAWA.
The development was not different in the Evbuobanosa community where farmers are recounting how the activities of herders forced them out of their farms.
Mr. Osazogbe Okunbor, speaking to MAWA official, narrated how the herders are forcing farmers to quit their farmlands and farming. She pointed out that herders destroy crops without the farmers getting justice from anywhere.
“The herders will go into your farms, destroy them, with their cattle, and steal the remaining ones they cannot destroy”, Okunbor told MAWA.
According to Mr. Roy Osariemen, a senior official in the Local Government, the LG Chairman has rejected the herders in the community. He does not want them again in the area. An action he said was taken as a result of the herder’s negative activities on the farmers.
However, a leader of herders in the area, Mr. Abdulahi Sule AKA ‘Seriki Abudu’ has appealed to the council boss to rescind his decision.
Sule while speaking to MAWA officials, disclosed that the state government had directed every (Hausa/Fulani) leader to identify every cattle and herder in their area and ensure any criminal act carried out by any of them is checked and put under control.
The narrative is not different in Nasarawa State, many farmers in the state have since been forced to abandon their farmlands as a result of attacks from the Herdsmen.
For instance, three herdsmen attacked Mr. S. Magaji and his family on their farmland at Unguwar Mangaro, close to Gitata in Karu Local Government Area of Nasarawa state.
Mrs. Magaji while speaking to MAWA, said her husband alongside the children went to their farmland to do some work, and while working, the herdsmen invaded their farm with their cattle. She disclosed that one of her children chased the cattle out of the farm and stopped them from destroying their crops, the herders got angry and attacked them with cutlasses inflicting injuries on her husband.
She, however, told MAWA that since the incident, happened, they have abandoned their farms because they do not want to be killed by the herders who constantly attack farmers in the area.
Mr. Ayuba, a farmer at the Aso Panda community area in Karu Local Government Area of Nasarawa State, was alleged to have been killed by herdsmen. Mr. Abu, a witness, while narrating the incident, told MAWA Foundation that Ayuba was killed when he resisted the herdsmen from destroying his farm.
Mrs. Tessy Abua, a farmer whose farm was destroyed by the herdsmen at the Nyanya Mountain area, explained that she had since abandoned her farm and swore never to return.
“You do not dare the herdsmen, they are too violent and can kill at any slightest provocation, the only option I have is to abandon my farm, they destroy our farms, and when you challenge them, you get killed and nothing happens,” Abua told MAWA team.
In Abuja, the Nigerian capital city, Monica a 48-year-old woman was killed on her farm by suspected herdsmen in Fera Kasa village in the Apo community.
Miss. Elizabeth, a witness who also owns a farm in the area, told MAWA Foundation that Monica was killed by the Herdsmen over a disagreement when she resisted them from entering her farm to destroy a maize plantation.
The deceased son, confirming the incident, told MAWA that the herdsmen who were three in number invaded their farm with cattle and killed his mother when she made an attempt to stop them from grazing on their maize plantation.
In Plateau State, farmers in Bassa Local Government Area, are recounting how the Herdsmen’s attacks on their community have forced them to abandon their farms and forced some residents to flee the community.
Mr. Joshua Goluak, a farmer in Bassa Local Government while narrating his ordeal, told MAWA Foundation that he has been forced to relocate to Abuja in search of a job having been forced out of his farmland by the herders, who, often attack farmers in their farms.
“I am a commercial motorcycle rider in the Karu area of Abuja, herders attacks forced me to abandon my farms and relocate from Plateau State”.
“I am forced to take up a commercial motorcycle operation job, I have family, I am under obligation to take care of them, and ensure they do not die of hunger”, Goluak told MAWA.
In Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara, Niger, and Sokoto States, a huge number of farmers have since abandoned their farms as a result of attacks on them by the herders.
Some farmers from Niger State who spoke to MAWA, said there are many communities in the state that have been abandoned let alone people going to their farms.
“Many villages in Niger state have been abandoned, we are begging for our lives to be spared, we cannot go to farms any longer, herders and bandits have taken over our farms,” Kabir Ismaila told MAWA.
As farmers continue to desert their farms, there is the likely implication that there will be acute food scarcity in Nigeria in the coming months.
Thus, as the Nigerian state continues her intervention in addressing insecurity, she must put in place, policies and strategies that will ensure food availability for her citizens to absorb the likely impasse that may engulf the nation as a result of food scarcity.