There are speculations the already high cost of foodstuffs across the country may get worse due to the activities of Fulani herdsmen who have taken over farmlands in some parts of the country, particularly the north.
Some farmers who spoke with The PUNCH bemoaned the failure of the Federal government to resolve the lingering crisis, adding it may lead to adverse hunger in some homes, especially low and average income earners as people will need to pay more for food items.
Benue state chairman of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria AFAN, Aondoana Kuhe while speaking with PUNCh said incessant attacks on farmers in the state will definitely lead to famine in the country if left unchecked.
He said farmers had abandoned most areas where food crops are cultivated to the herdsmen in order to escape being killed.
“Benue is ranked among the highest producers of rice, yam, soya bean, corn and sesame seeds but when our farmers could no longer assess their farms, how do we produce food crops for the nation?” he asked.
He revealed 14 out of 23 local government areas in the state known for large food crop production are currently under attacks by the Fulani herdsmen.
The Benue state Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, James Anbua corroborated AFAN’s Chairman claim. He said over N8billion has been lost by farmers on rice alone since the attacks started in January.
He said, “The two LGAs (Guma and Logo) produce 25,000 metric tons of rice and soya bean but there are just a few in the market because the ones that are due for harvest could not be taken from the farms.”
Some traders who spoke to PUNCH correspondent lamented the rise in the price of food items between February and June this year.
They claimed a tuber of yam that was sold for N200 in February in Markudi now sells between N400 and N500.
On his own part, the National Publicity Secretary of the Agbekoya Farmers Association, Chief Olatunji Bandele said, “Pepper, tomatoes and onions are very expensive now. The entire country still depends on the northern farmers to produce the various varieties from their farms.
“Generally speaking, most of the food items that come from the North are on the high side in terms of prices. I think the price of garri is now N7,000 per bag. Food items that come from the North like yam and beans have become very expensive.”