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Insecurity: Taraba farmers weigh options, task govt

As wet season cropping begins in Taraba State, farmers are afraid to start operation in some communities where incidents of banditry and clashes between farmers…

As wet season cropping begins in Taraba State, farmers are afraid to start operation in some communities where incidents of banditry and clashes between farmers and herdsmen were recorded in the past year.

Residents are now expressing fear that the situation might worsen the food crisis situation in the state.

Already, prices of farm produce, such as those of rice, maize, soghurm have risen in many parts of the state, with merchants who come from other parts of the country lamenting.

To this end, farmers in some of the affected areas are calling on the Taraba State Government and security agencies to be proactive against activities of bandits.

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The farmers made the appeal separately in an interview with Daily Trust on Sunday, adding that if urgent action is not taken, many of them are unlikely to farm this year.

But findings have revealed that hundreds of farmers in Gassol, Karim-Lamido and part of Bali local government areas where attacks by bandits were recorded in the last farming season are now in their farms planting different crops.

A farmer at the Sabongida area in Gassol Local Government Area, Mallam Tanimu Abdullahi, told our correspondent that they decided to dare the consequences and return to their farms.

He said that last year, farmers suffered a series of bandits’ attacks and many of them were killed.

As a result of this, many people could not go to their farms and crops were not harvested.

Another farmer, Suleiman Saidu, said that in the Karim-Lamido area, many farmers were killed, while others were forced to abandon their villages because of bandits’ attacks and kidnapping.

“It reached a situation where many farming communities were not safe; hence their activities stopped,” he said, adding that soldiers and hunters were, however, brought in to face flush out the bandits.”

A farmer in the Baba Juli village area of Bali Local Government Area, Hamisu Lawal, told Daily Trust on Sunday that in the last farming season, farmers suffered a lot of attacks from bandits and the experience is still fresh in their minds.

He said many farmers could not harvest their crops because of attacks, including kidnapping by bandits in Kambari, Illela and several other communities last year.

Hamisu said the bandits were dislodged through a joint operation by security forces made up of soldiers, police and vigilantes.

He said that the bandits, who operated on motorcycles, were more than 200.

“The bandits operated from the foot of a mountain in the boundary between Bali and Gassol and sacked many farming communities after killing many farmers and rustling herds of cattle,” he said.

Another farmer, Kabiru Rabiu, said the bandits operated openly during the day and night and slept with both married women and young girls, while their husbands and parents were helpless.

He said it was under such terrible situation that farmers carried out their activities in most of the villages during last year’s farming season.

However, there is a mixed feeling among farmers in the state as many of them are not entertaining any fear of possible attacks in their communities this farming season while others are afraid to embark on farming in areas they consider unsafe.

Bashir Adamu, a journalist in Jalingo, told Daily Trust on Sunday that this year, he would not work in his farms, located at the Kwando area in Ardo-Kola Local Government Area.

He said the area was used by bandits to launch attacks in some farming communities, including part of Jalingo town.

Adamu said Kwando and other villages were attacked recently, an indication that the bandits would not allow farmers to carry out their activities freely this season if measures are not taken by security agents.

“I will not go to farms in the remotest areas of farming communities because the bandits that launched attacks in Garin Baka are still hiding on the mountain top and may attack farmers this season as they did last year,” he said.

He said he would restrict his farming activities to safe area, especially farms located close to villages and major roads.

An official of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) in the state, Alhaji Adamu Mutumbiyu, told our correspondent that farmers were divided over farming activities this season.

He revealed that some farmers had already started planting crops and depending on God for protection.

“What we saw last year was very alarming. The bandits moved in groups with sophisticated arms and attacked farming communities during the day and night,” he said

He said security agents, including vigilantes and hunters, had done their best in confronting the bandits, but they are still hiding on top of mountains at different locations in Bali, Ardo-Kola and Gashaka local government areas.

“We have no other means of getting money apart from farming; that is why most of us, including those who suffered in the hands of bandits last year, are now in the farms. We are praying that the state and federal governments would rise to the occasion and secure all the farming communities,” he said.

Apart from the fear of bandits, which could hamper farming activities in some communities across the state, there is an ongoing crisis between the Kutep and Fulani in Ussa and parts of Takum local government areas. Similarly, there is Tiv-Jukun crisis in part of the Wukari area, which if not tackled, would have a negative impact on farming activities this season.

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