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Gombe farmers keep vigil on farms to protect crops

Some farmers in Gombe State are taking unusual steps to safeguard their crops as a result of the increasing cases of theft of farm produce.…

Some farmers in Gombe State are taking unusual steps to safeguard their crops as a result of the increasing cases of theft of farm produce.

While some farmers now sleep on their farms to keep vigil, others pay between N30,000 and N50,000 monthly to vigilantes to safeguard their farms, as farmers in the state prepare for harvest.

Investigation by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Billiri, Yamaltu-Deba, Kaltungo, Nafada, Kwami and Akko local government areas of the state revealed that farmers now keep 24-hour vigilance over their yet-to-be harvested crops.

Mr. Nasiru Usman, a farmer, told NAN on Tuesday that he had moved temporarily to his farm in Nono community because he couldn’t afford to pay anyone to watch his farm.

Usman said having spent huge sum purchasing inputs, he could not afford such extra expenses, hence he decided to stay on his farm until his crops were harvested and transported to a safer place.

Mr Ayuba Ali, a farmer from Billiri, said crop theft was the major challenge faced by farmers in almost all villages in Billiri.

He added that the development had forced farmers in the area to adopt measures to safeguard their produce.

Ali said some farmers pay up to N40,000 monthly per vigilante and engaged more than one official depending on the size of their farms.

“This is now a must; if you don’t, you lose your investment. For me, I don’t have that kind of money to spend so I have moved temporarily to my farm to sleep there and watch over my farm, especially at night when they sneak into farms to carry out their wicked acts,” he said.

Ali said it had not been easy since he started sleeping on his farm as this was his first time, adding that he had no option because he invested a lot in view of the high prices of inputs, especially fertilisers.

For Idris Garba, a rice farmer from Deba community who cultivated 15 hectares of farmland, it is a story of continued spending until harvest.

Garba said in two months, he had spent N100,000 to engage two vigilantes whom he paid N25,000 each monthly to watch over his farm day and night.

“I have two vigilantes who guard my farm against thieves; one watches during the day and the other at night.

“I pay them N25,000 each, so monthly I spend N50,000 and for two months running now, I have been paying them. It will continue until I harvest all my produce,” he said.

Mr Ibrahim Kashere, a multi-crop farmer from Kashere community in Akko LGA, said the issue was widespread in their community, adding that it had forced farmers to either move to their farms or employ watchmen to safeguard their yet-to-be harvested crops.

Kashere said within the last 10 days, over seven persons had been caught stealing produce from other people’s farms, adding that those caught had blamed hunger for their action.

“If you must get anything from your farm, you must sleep there every night or employ people to do that for you, else your investment will go with every night of stealing,” he said.

Similarly, Haruna Kwami, a farmer from Kwami LGA, said there was no crop that was not prone to being stolen, noting that hunger was a major cause of the rising cases of crop theft.

Kwami advised farmers in the state to take measures to safeguard their farms as many of them had done, saying if they don’t, they would have nothing to harvest.

When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer in Gombe, ASP Mahid Abubakar, told NAN that such complaint had not been received at the command but he couldn’t tell if such had been received at the divisional level.

Abubakar advised farmers in the state to cultivate the attitude of reporting such cases.

“If we receive such reports, we will know how to provide adequate security.

“What you don’t know you can’t act on; I am just hearing this from you but if we have a formal complaint from the affected farmers, we will take measures,” he said. (NAN)

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