Food scarcity is imminent across the nation, following a drastic reduction in food production as a result of insecurity in different parts of Nigeria. Apart from the impact of the activities of the Boko Haram in the North East, which have displaced thousands of agrarian communities, farming activities have also come under threat in the middle belt and southern regions owing to the menace of Fulani herdsmen. In recent weeks, the armed herdsmen who are now found in almost every community in the South -East, South- South and South- West geo-political zones have clashed with farmers, a situation that has resulted in the death of several persons in the hands of suspected Fulani herdsmen.
As a corollary, various groups in Southern Nigeria such as the Ohaneze Ndigbo, Movement for Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Odua People’s Congress (OPC) have issued ultimatums, demanding the exit of the herdsmen from their lands.
This has reduced the movement of cattle and foodstuff to markets in the southern part of the country, as the Hausa/ Fulani traders have become apprehensive that they might be attacked by the aggrieved people of Southern Nigeria. Our correspondents gathered that while many farmers in the South had abandoned their farmlands for security reasons, traders from the North have cut down on the quantity of cattle, rice, beans and vegetables they move down to the South for sale. The result has been an unprecedented increase in prices of these staple foods in the market.
Few cows, fewer tomatoes
“Usually, 200 Peugeot J5 model buses leave the Kaduna Central Market with baskets of tomatoes to Kogi, Edo and Delta states everyday during the peak season between December to March,” Malam Idris Sherrif, the National chairman of Vegetable Farmers Association of Nigeria, told one of our correspondents. In the same vein, 400 Tangle lorries and about 500 Peugeot J5 Models go to Lagos alone, Sherrif said. “Mile 12 Market alone used to absorb 80 trailers of tomatoes, apart from other vegetables like onions, chillies and hot pepper every day.’’
However, in the last few years, the volume of sales, even within the North, has dwindled and the cost of vegetables has increased, Malam Idris has lamented. “Right now, the situation is worse because this is not the season for tomatoes,” he said.
Before now, a basket of tomatoes costs just N3,000 during the dry season, but the same quantity now sells for between N10,000 to N20,000, depending on the supply. “In the South, the price increase will be more because the number of lorries that convey the commodities to the region has reduced drastically because of the recent threats that northerners face, owing to the order given by some groups that herdsmen should leave their areas,’’ Sheriff said.
According to him, most of the dealers were afraid of going down to the South because of the threat of the Oodua Peoples Congress and the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign States of Biafra who were peeved by the recent attack in Ukpabi- Nimbo, Uzo Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu State. A prominent cattle dealer at Zango Cattle Market, Alhaji Muhammad Abubakar, said that cattle dealers are wary of going to the South in recent times. “The recent threat by southerners that our people should leave their area has made even the few who used to go there to be apprehensive. Some traders are still plying their trades but majority have adopted a wait-and-see attitude,” he said.
In Nasarawa State, farmers have complained about the disruption of farming activities by the herdsnen and raised the alarm over the heavy presence of nomads and cows and destruction of crops on farmland in some parts of the state. Chairman of United Farmers Association in Kadarko in Keana Local Government Area in the state, complained that attacks and mischief by Fulani cattle on farms was slowing down farming activities in the area. “We are afraid