AGRI­CUL­TURE How Borno plans to re­vive agri­cul­ture

Daily Trust - - AGRICULTURE - From Shehu Abubakar, Maiduguri

The agri­cul­tural sec­tor has per­haps suf­fered the big­gest ca­su­alty in Borno State as a re­sult of the on­go­ing Boko Haram in­sur­gency. First, be­cause it was the em­ployer of over 80 per­cent of the peo­ple of the state but now can no longer pro­vide a plat­form for farm­ing to even 15 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion, fol­low­ing the cri­sis.

Baga which used to be the hub of fish­ing ac­tiv­ity for Nige­ria, Niger, Chad and Camer­oun has not been able to pro­duce even a bas­ket of fish for al­most a year now due to the ac­tiv­i­ties of in­sur­gents who have taken over con­trol of the wa­ter side.

Over 80 per­cent of the cows and other live­stock be­ing con­sumed in Nige­ria are im­ported through Maiduguri and later dis­trib­uted to other parts of the coun­try in ad­di­tion to the ones that are lo­cally pro­duced by farm­ers in the state, all that no longer ex­ist as all exit routes to the neigh­bour­ing coun­tries have been taken over by the in­sur­gents while lo­cal farm­ers have been dis­pos­sessed of their live­stock through cat­tle rustling.

Most farm­ers in the state have been at­tacked and killed and their farm­lands ei­ther taken over by Boko Haram or have be­come bat­tle grounds and can no longer be ac­cessed by them. The few farm­ers that can still cul­ti­vate their farm­lands; have dif­fi­culty ap­ply­ing fer­til­izer as se­cu­rity op­er­a­tives al­ways con­fis­cate the com­mod­ity on the ex­cuse that fer­til­izer is used in mak­ing bombs.

Speak­ing on the plight of farm­ers in the state, a farmer, Al­haji Modu Tun­gushe, told this re­porter in Guza Malam mar­ket that farm­ing has suf­fered ma­jor set­back that “only God knows if we can ever go back to our farms in our life time. I used to cul­ti­vate a min­i­mum of 80 bags of as­sorted grains ev­ery sea­son in Baga. Overnight the in­sur­gents raided my house and carted away ev­ery­thing I had. They also killed my el­der son and two of my work­ers.

“I am now stay­ing in an IDP camp with my fam­ily com­ing to such vil­lage mar­kets to serve as agents to peo­ple buy­ing grains and live­stock to make a liv­ing. My fear is, even if the in­sur­gency ends to­day, from where are we go­ing to start? I do not have money to even buy seed,” he said.

Al­haji Aji Yakarimi is a wheat and sorghum farmer. He said he ob­tained a loan of N750, 000 from a bank and in­vested in his wheat farm when sud­denly Boko Haram at­tacked and took over his farm­land along with oth­ers, say­ing, “A ma­jor farmer who sup­plies flour mills with wheat gave me high va­ri­ety seeds on the ar­range­ment that af­ter harvest, I will sell to him and he will add to his own and sup­ply the mill.

“That was in the early days of in­sur­gency in the state. I supplied him twice then went for the loan be­fore the at­tack. I am not sure there is a sin­gle farm that can pro­duce one ton of grains that is still func­tional in the state ex­cept around Biu. I do not see agri­cul­ture be­ing re­vived in the next 20 years even if in­sur­gency ends to­day,” he said.

But Gover­nor Kashim Shet­tima said farm­ers in the state do not have any rea­son to en­ter­tain fear over the re­vival of agri­cul­tural ac­tiv­i­ties in the state, say­ing, “Peo­ple should just pray to God to re­store peace in the state. Know­ing the value of agri­cul­ture to my peo­ple and tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion the ex­tent of dam­age done to the sec­tor, I de­cided to be very proac­tive.

“The state gov­ern­ment has taken to the com­ple­tion of an ul­tra-mod­ern farm cen­tre for the pro­duc­tion of im­proved seedlings that is aimed at pro­vid­ing mul­ti­ple yields to farm­ers. The state has also taken de­liv­ery of 845 ad­di­tional trac­tors, bring­ing to a to­tal of 2,000 brand new trac­tors now in stock. We also took de­liv­ery of 1,416 planters to add to the ones we have in stock.

“All the farm­ing equip­ment were im­ported as part of the gov­ern­ment’s post in­sur­gency plan for com­mer­cial agri­cul­ture in ru­ral ar­eas as soon as Boko Haram in­sur­gents are de­feated. We have just re­cently bought 25 com­bined har­vesters that have since been de­liv­ered. In the whole of Nige­ria, there are only a to­tal of 56 com­bined har­vesters out of which Borno State alone has 25.

“We have bought and in­stalled dozens of green houses and ma­chines at the seedlings pro­duc­tion cen­tre which is ex­pected to be the sup­plier of im­proved seedlings re­quired by farm­ers to have high yields such as what ob­tains in de­vel­oped coun­tries. We have also bought equip­ment for drip ir­ri­ga­tion as well as large cool­ing sys­tems needed in nurs­ing seedlings, both of which have been in­stalled at the seedlings pro­duc­tion cen­tre,” he said.

The gover­nor, who was speak­ing while in­spect­ing the equip­ment in Maiduguri, said the gov­ern­ment has ac­quired so much agri­cul­tural equip­ment and has spon­sored youth from the state to In­dia and other coun­tries for train­ing on us­age, main­te­nance and re-in­stal­la­tion of the equip­ment.

Cross sec­tion of the 2000 trac­tors bought by the state


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