Kaduna State Chairman, Rice Farmers Association (RIFAN), Muhammadu Nungu said the association lost 15 members in attacks by gunmen and kidnappers between 2016 and 2018 cropping seasons in the state.
Nungu told the News Agency of Nigeria in Kaduna on Wednesday that many rice farmers abandoned their crops during the 2018 season due to incessant kidnapping and attacks by gunmen in different parts of the state.
“As I speak to you, we have lost no fewer than 15 members between 2016 and 2018 farming seasons to gunmen and kidnappers who will freely attack farmers while working on their farms.
“Many others sustained injuries during similar attacks in different local government areas of the state where rice is being produced, “ Nungu said.
He said that most farmers were afraid to go to their farms because of fear of being attacked or kidnapped by gunmen, a situation which he said had reduced the quantity of rice hitherto produced in the state.
According to him, rice farmers faced two serious challenges; one is that of security in some local governments where rice is produced.
“Birnin Gwari, parts of Giwa, Kajuru, Kachia, Sanga, parts of Kauru and Jema’a Local Governments were most hit by the menace of attacks and kidnapping.
“The other challenge is flood which is natural, but had ended up destroying most of our crops in some parts of the state. This had reduced rice production in the state by more than half.
“You know that more than 13,000 of our members are benefiting from the Anchor Borrowers Programme, so with these challenges, paying back the loan became another challenge.
“ But so far, we are able to pay back more than 40 per cent of the loan, even with the challenges at hand, “he said.
He appealed to governments at all levels to address the issue of kidnapping and gunmen attacks, for farmers to fully resume production.
Malam Dahiru Abdullahi, the Information Officer at the state Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, told NNN that the state government was on top of the situation with various measures taken to ensure farmers’ safety while working on their farms.
Abdullahi, however, advised farmers to work in groups, avoid working in isolated farms and report any suspicious movements they noticed around their farms.