The escalating wave of attacks against farmers by armed groups across Nigeria is worsening critical food shortages and plunging the nation deeper into a dire hunger crisis this year.
Recall in June, major news headlines reported that 19 farmers were killed by nonstate armed groups in Borno State alone.
Bulama, a seasoned farmer with over three decades of experience in northeast Nigeria, is not a stranger to the waves of attacks on farmers in the state.
He explained, this year has proven exceptionally challenging as armed assailants have targeted and either abducted or slain a significant number of his fellow farmers.
Recalling the tragic incidents, Bulama revealed, “Armed groups have repeatedly ambushed us while we’re working in the fields, kidnapping our friends and fellow farmers, and demanding ransoms that are often beyond the means of any villager.”
He added, “They’ve raided our farms, leaving us helpless with nothing to take home. Many of us in the community face hunger and starvation due to the insurgents’ denial of access to our farmlands. Even when we risk our lives to cultivate, they loot everything, condemning us to starvation.”
For Bulama, the prospect of abandoning farming, despite its inherent risks, is a hard decision to take. “If I stop farming, my children will face death, a harrowing choice that is all too common for farmers in the north,” he shared.
The dire situation is further worsened by the unusually delayed rainfall this year, deepening the prevailing hunger crisis. “All our remaining crops are dried and dead,” Bulama lamented.
“We’re forced to start anew as many farmers are uprooting their dead crops to make way for new plantings. With no food and no alternatives, we go days without a single meal.”
Meanwhile, according to a report by the Nigerian Security Tracker, it revealed between January and June 2023, more than 128 farmers were killed, and 37 others were abducted by armed groups across the country.
Alarming statistics have prompted the United Nations to forecast that over 25 million Nigerians could confront food insecurity this year – an alarming 47 percent surge from the initial 17 million individuals at risk. This surge is attributed to ongoing instability, prolonged conflicts, and an anticipated escalation in food prices.
Moreover, approximately two million children below the age of five residing in northeastern Nigerian states such as Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe are are likely to be pushed into acute malnutrition in 2023. Tragically, some 700,000 of these vulnerable children are teetering on the brink of death.
In response to the unfolding catastrophe, Nigeria has declared a state of emergency concerning food insecurity. The declaration aims to tackle food scarcities, stabilize surging prices, and enhance safeguarding measures for farmers grappling with violence at the hands of armed groups.