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EDITORIAL

Insurgency, Nigeria’s threat to food security

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THE spate of killings in Nigeria  has in recent time  become worrisomely high. Despite gallant efforts of Nigeria’s security agencies, especially, the military and the police, the matter has worsened. it has terribly deflated the once towering ego to a very large extent.

Recently, over 40 persons were killed in Bornu State in an act believed by authorities to be by  insurgent attack. Gory footage of the victims’ corpses as they were laid out in crates preparatory for burial sent chills to the spines of all who have regard for the sanctity of human lives.

  SHOCKINGLY, the targets of the attack were  on farmers in the rural areas of Jerre Local Government in Bornu State. They were all rice farmers..

  IRONICALLY, this is coming at a dire period of farming disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic as global fear for  consequent famine heightens and challenges many society. The murdered farmers were obviously struggling  to fill the void the coronavirus pandemic has created in the food chain and ensure as quick as possible, return to food sufficiency for the country.

  THEREFORE, the import of the action is not just the rice farmers  massacre in some communes in Bornu, but a disastrous blow to Nigeria’s food sufficiency and economic security. First sign of the danger is that the staple food will further deplete in supply, most unfortunately at a time the commodity price is spiking beyond the reach of many Nigerians.

 A WALK into markets across Nigeria to check the cost of just   a cup of rice currently, will buttress the magnitude of trouble  Nigeria  has in her hand, which the last weekend killings magnify. Yet,  we have not got to   the peak time for its demand. With the price of rice hitting the sky as the Yuletide draws near and the available farmers  being killed, what should be expected this season is only better imagined. Apparently, Christmas and New Year celebrations remain the highest point of demand for the staple food.

  WITH the killing of the farmers,  experts have calculated that Nigeria may be losing an output of at least 150 tons of rice if the farmers cultivate an average of a hectare per person in a season, which many of them double.

  WHAT worsens the development is the security it presents given that no farmer would like to go back to the farm under fear of death. The consequence is that we are likely not to get rice in the future. But the matter goes beyond rice as every proceed from the farm may be affected given that the killers want to scare all farmers away from their farms, and this is harvest season.

  Therefore, the likelihood of high cost of food and other commodities may be inevitable. It boils down to heading for the worse if nothing stringent is done to reverse the trend.

  APART from that, the challenge of transportation comes in. This implies that farm products may rot away in the farms.

    BEYOND rice, tomatoes and onions are all getting more scarce in the market by the day. The obvious implication is that while it may be getting more difficult to evacuate farm produce from the farm this harvest season, the tendency of large quantities perishing or wasting away is high.

  WHAT this means in an economy facing the highest inflation rate according to the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS) report of November 16, 2020 since 1987 is only better imagined.

  CONSEQUENTLY, many families will  go hungry and the nation would  suffer: Interestingly, ours is a fast   expanding hungry population.

  WE CONSIDER this a clarion call for states to be keen on setting  up forest guarding and other security agencies with expertise in guarding farms and forests.

  It is equally important that governments provide soft loans to farmers for  basic food production, to at least cushion the effects of the short falls already experienced in the system. They should as well establish agencies that will ease the production and distribution, storage and sales of farm produces like the FADAMA and the VCDP agricultural Value Chain Development  Programmes,  so that people in rural areas will have easier accessibility of programs that encourage farming practices. Further, government should look seriously into  soft loans for micro and medium scale enterprise to non active youths in this time of challenges.

  WHATEVER is the intention of the insurgents championing this carnage or onslaught, they should be made to know that where there are no human persons, as their killings promote, there cannot be any society for them to rule.

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