STOCK MARKET BSE NSE

Boko Haram food crisis: Farmers call to return home

Subsistence agriculture is a lifeline in the northeast but the eight-year Islamist insurgency has devastated activities, causing a desperate lack of food and sky-high prices.

Published: 11th June 2017 11:25 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th June 2017 11:25 AM   |  A+A-

Boko Haram. ( File photo | AP)

By PTI

MAIDUGURI (NIGERIA): Farmers and fishermen displaced by Boko Haram violence in northeast Nigeria want to return home, saying it will help ease chronic food shortages for the remote region's starving millions.

Subsistence agriculture is a lifeline in the northeast but the eight-year Islamist insurgency has devastated activities, causing a desperate lack of food and sky-high prices.

Many farmers and fishermen have either been killed or fled to camps for the displaced, where they are dependent on food aid, or to live with friends and distant relatives.

Aid agencies say a severe funding shortfall is affecting feeding programmes, despite high levels of severe acute malnutrition and repeated warnings that famine is a possibility.

The head of the Lake Chad fishermen's union, Labbo Tahir, said: "No amount of food aid can adequately feed us.

"The only way out of this unending starvation is for us to return home, grow our own food and rebuild our lives," he told AFP.

Ibrahim Mammadu used to grow rice and other crops but now works as a labourer on a tomato field near the Borno state capital Maiduguri for USD 13 (11.6 euros) a month.

The money is hardly enough to feed his family of five for a week.

"If only I can return to my farm my hardship would be over and within a year I can grow enough food for my family," said the 35-year-old.

"This is the only way I can end my dependency and poverty because farming is all I know."

The freshwaters of Lake Chad and its fertile shores have made northern Borno the state's food basket.

Government statistics say three districts on the Nigerian side of the lake - Marte, Kukawa and Ngala - provided a quarter of the country's annual wheat production of 90,000 tonnes in 2014.

The Fisheries Society of Nigeria says some 300,000 tonnes of fish caught in the region represents about 12 per cent of fish consumed nationwide.

But Lake Chad is currently a Boko Haram hotspot and economic activity has ground to a halt. A sales ban has exacerbated losses, as the military fears profits are funding insurgent activities.

In recent weeks, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) donated 30 tonnes of early-maturing, pestresistant seeds to Borno's farmers.

But IITA coordinator Kamai Nkike said three consecutive rainy seasons have been missed and the current season, which began two weeks ago, is also likely to pass without crops being planted.

"Farming in northern Borno at the moment is practically impossible," said Nkike. "The farmers want to be on their own.

They are not happy with food aid."

Stay up to date on all the latest World news with The New Indian Express App. Download now

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp