Benue State Commissioner for Agriculture, James Anbua, says the persistent clashes between farmers and herdsmen portend a grave threat to the nation’s quest for food security.
Mr Anbua speaking with newsmen in Makurdi on Friday said that many farmers were still unable to return to their farms after the clashes between them and herdsmen.
He said that as the rainy season was approaching, some farmers were still staying at the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps for fear of attacks by herdsmen.
Mr Anbua said but for the development, the farmers ought to have been preparing their farmlands for cultivation of various crops by now.
The commissioner said that it was unfortunate that they could not go to their houses because the herdsmen had taken over their ancestral homes.
He emphasised that most of the areas where clashes had occurred were the highest producers of agricultural produce in the state.
He said that this development could affect agricultural activities in 2018 cropping season.
The commissioner recalled that the clashes affected the 2017 harvests because it started when farmers were harvesting their crops, especially, rice and soybeans.
‘‘We were expecting bumper harvest during the 2017 harvesting season but it became a mirage because of the January attacks and subsequent ones.
‘‘Even those that harvested their crops like rice and soybeans were yet to thrash them. The attacks took place at the peak of the harvesting season,’’ he said.
He said that the animals that were confiscated by the Livestock Guards, in collaboration with security agencies, were returned to their owners after paying a statutory fee of N2,000 per head.
He disclosed that 206 heads of cows were confiscated in Logo Local Government Area of the state alone.
Mr Anbua stated that figures from other local government areas were being collated and would be made public soon.
‘‘Confiscation of cattle was decentralised thereby given each local government area within which cows that violated the Anti-Open Grazing Law of 2017 were arrested,’’ he said.