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Farmers count losses as Niger’s agric revolution consumes cultivated lands

We will compensate them – Govt   Niger State government has commenced its agricultural revolution but in a reversed gear, farmers lamented. It commenced land…

  • We will compensate them – Govt


Niger State government has commenced its agricultural revolution but in a reversed gear, farmers lamented. It commenced land clearing, which has led to the destruction of  farms that have already been cultivated and some crops, especially maize, already reaching maturity stage.

Our correspondent reports that the revolution is being implemented through Niger Foods Logistics Limited and other partners.

The affected farmers from communities in Mariga Local Government Area of the state said they woke up to see the newly purchased government tractors being used to destroy their farms on Thursday to give way for the government to cultivate the lands.

Governor Umaru Bago had said that 250, 000 hectares of land would be cultivated across the 25 LGAs as part of steps to tackle food security and achieve food sufficiency.

To achieve this, he directed the 25 LGA chairmen to allocate 10, 000 hectares of land each in their respective LGAs for the project.

The Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Salihu Musa Bawa Bosso, recently told our correspondent that “As you might be aware, the state is cultivating 10, 000 hectares of land in each of the LGAs. That is 250, 000 hectares of land and the state government has already procured farm equipment like tractors, planters, harvesters and other simple farm implements like power tilers for mechanised farming. That’s how ready the state government is to support farmers for the rain-fed season.”

But residents of the affected communities told our correspondent that more than 60 hectares of farmlands would be affected by the government’s decision in Mariga, Kampanin-Bobi and Durgu communities of Mariga Local Government Area.

A resident, Musa Sale Bobi, said that several hectares of farmlands with matured maize plants have already been destroyed, adding that no fewer than 200 farmers, whose crops had already grown, were affected.

Alhaji Sanusi Pawa from Mariga LGA said he had already applied 21 cartons of herbicides on his 13 hectares of land, and that two and a half hectares had been taken over. He said another 30 hectares of land belonging to his friend were also destroyed by the government.

Also speaking, Ibrahim Yerima told our correspondent that the crops he planted on his eight hectares of farmlands were destroyed after the land was confiscated by the government, saying that, “We want fairness, justice and sympathy from Governor Mohammed Umar Bago. This step taken by the government would worsen the hardship we are already facing. What we need is government’s support.”

Another farmer, Abubakar Yaki, Kampanin-Bobi, who said his hectares of farmland and that of his younger brother were destroyed, said they do not know where to start even if given another farmland, noting that the maize plants that were destroyed were already grown.

“The maize I planted had grown well before they were destroyed. In fact, I have applied fertilizer, and another farm belonging to my younger brother was also destroyed. We have been farming on those lands for close to 50 years.

“I was not aware that the government wanted to cultivate the land. If I was told, I wouldn’t have spent my money and time cultivating the land. My own was two hectares and the entire farm was destroyed. My major concern now is where to start from again,” he said.

Similarly, Mr. Ezekiel Samari, an Internally Displaced Person from Allawa community, Shiroro LGA of the state, said part of his maize farm along Minna-Paiko Road was equally destroyed by the state government’s agents who claimed that it was an order from the governor.

“I am an Internally Displaced Person. I fled from Allawa to Minna due to attacks on our community by the bandits.

“I rented a large hectare of land at Korokpa village from Gbagyi indigenes from Paiko which I started cultivating. Later, someone obliged me to go and cultivate a land belonging to the family of the former governor, late Engr Abdulkadir Kure.

“So, my children were working on the farm when some people came with a tractor. The team leader told me that the governor had taken over the land and they were directed to come and till the land. After tilling part of the land that I had just sprayed herbicide, they started destroying the parts I had planted the maize. The maize had already grown because it was early planting. Some of the maize would soon start flowering for production. I am begging the state government to assist us. We are helpless,” he pleaded.

Govt says farmers ignore early warnings, promises compensation

Meanwhile, the  Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Salihu Musa Bawa Bosso, confirmed that the farms were destroyed and taken over by the state government as part of 25, 000 hectares to be cultivated across the state by Niger Foods and other partners.

He, however, assured that the affected farmers would be compensated, saying that a meeting was held where the state government had admitted that damages were done to the affected farmers.

“What happened was that it was a government-reserved area and from the beginning, a committee chaired by the Emir of Kagara was constituted and communities were informed that the government was going to cultivate those lands this year. The cultivation was to be done by the Niger Foods and other partners of the government. And people were told not to farm on those lands with a promise that when the government starts, the people farming on those lands would be integrated into the government agricultural revolution.

“But despite government warnings, some people went and rented those lands out to people to cultivate and those people started the cultivation. And when Niger Foods were ready for cultivation, they took over the lands and we started receiving complaints.

“We have already met with members of the affected communities and it was agreed that their farms were truly destroyed but they would be compensated,” he explained.

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