Source National Accord
MAIDUGURI, Nigeria--Boko Haram insurgents activities have consistently impacted on socio economic and political activities of Borno state for over a decade with attendant killings of hundreds of thousands of people both young and old, male and female apart from the wanton destruction of public and private property worth billions of naira.
The insurgency, however, has prompted several calls and pleas from all sections of the society from far and near by individuals and organizations while others suggested dialogue or reconciliation between the insurgents and government which led to a non kinetic approach to the war as part of the post insurgency rebuilding and peace making processes.
Our Maiduguri Correspondent, SADIQ ABUBAKAR gives an X-ray of how continuous voluntary surrendering of Boko Haram fighters have impacted on agricultural activities in Borno state.
Recent investigation has revealed that the Nigerian military reports indicated that over 50,000 repentant Boko Haram insurgents have so far voluntarily surrendered and laid down their arms to security agents.
It will be recalled that the Boko Haram activities have fundamentally dethroned socio-economic activities by Increased crime and destruction of both lives and property.
These abuses include murder, abduction, sexual violence, forced labor, forced conscription of children, looting, and burning public buildings (such as schools), personal property (such as farmland), and in some cases entire villages and agriculture in Borno state being the major occupation of large majority of the citizens of the state as the most important sector of the state economy from the standpoint of rural employment, sufficiency in food and fibre, and export earning prior to the discovery of oil.
The Chairman, Zabarmari Rice Profession Sellers Association, Alh. Hassan Mohammed in a telephone conversation also told our correspondent in Maiduguri that,” Now we don't fear Boko Haram insurgents. We do meet with each other in the bush today unlike in the past without any fear or attack. They no longer kill or attack us. We do our farm businesses and leave for the house peacefully unlike in the past.
“The Boko Haram insurgents who surrendered gave us more strength and power to go to farms even in far distances unlike in the past where we can not farm beyond 1 kilometer. Now, we can go as far as 10-20 kilometers or more to cultivate our farmlands, harvest our farms and transport our produce peacefully,” Hassan said.
Alh. Hassan said there was sustained emphasis on agricultural activities such that Borno is a major producer of dry season farming products like rice, pepper, tomatoes, onions, wheat, guinea corn, millet, watermelon and other vegetables. In addition to these crops, Borno produces enough food crops such as potatoes, cassava, maize, millet, sorghum and soya beans so that there is practically no need for food importation. Hitherto, agriculture accounted for over 60% of the state’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) According to BOSADP statistics in 2018.
He however appealed to the state government to assist and support their members/farmers, especially, those that have willingly accepted to return to their ancestral homes to live a normal life with their major occupation as framing, while calling on the Government to provide them with farming implements, fertilizer, seedlings and seeds as well as water pumps and their kits for the dry season farming as well as irrigation farming .
According to him, the level of food produced this year has multiplied and the availability of food produced in the market has increased, unlike last two years when nobody can dare make any attempt to access farmlands far away from his or her resettlement area.
He also claimed that the Zabarmari Rice locally produced is one of the best and better in taste and quality than the foreign ones. He noted that rice buyers and sellers prepare to patronize the local rice more than the rice from India and Thailand.
Hassan said with the Government support and empowerment on rice and wheat production, a bumper harvest should be expected next year as all the support and facilities provided would be channeled towards agricultural activities of the state.
Recall that In the 1970s, 1980s , and 1990s, Borno was known to be a major agricultural producer in Nigeria. . While Nigeria once provided 18% of the world demand of cocoa, second in the world in the 1960s, that figure has drastically reduced to 8%. Also the country which was known to produce 65% of tomatoes in West Africa has become the leading importer of tomato paste.
But on his part, the Special Adviser to Governor Zulum on Agriculture, Hon. Ali Audu Damasak in an interview with our Maiduguri Correspondent said,” Boko Haram activities resulted in the poor performance of the agricultural sector of the state, thereby truncating farming activities with killings, burning and displacement of people in rural areas and their property “.
He said,” Their attacks were below economic expectation where the criminals activities are still capable of frustrating socioeconomic development of people living in remote and rural areas, most especially in the northern Borno as they engaged more in agriculture than any other trade in order to sustain themselves, and trade within their capacity or capabilities for profit making “.
“However, the on-going Boko Haram insurgency has affected the rural agricultural economy in the northern part of Borno. The impact of voluntary surrendering of Boko Haram Fighters on agricultural sector of Borno and its environs is enormous with lots of benefits as most farmers especially in the northern part of the state have gained a lot from the state government by way if support and assistance including water pumps, fertilizer, seedlings, seeds and cash among others.”
“A lots of farmlands were cultivated and youths engaged as labourers while large or expanded farmlands were allocated to the rural farmers as no more terrorists attacks. Even if a few Boko Haram Fighters are in the bush, they no longer attack the farmers and interfere in the farming activities of the villagers.
“We have been to many communities and provided them with farming implements and facilities including farmlands, fertilizer,seedlings, seeds, water pumps machines, pesticides and even transport facilities. Although agriculture is not limited to crop production alone.,” Audu said.
According to the Special Adviser, Northern Borno is also involved in animal husbandry and fishery which they engaged in business even before the colonial era. The manifestation of Boko Haram recently has been a great threat to the Borno business environment as farming and other business activities are being harmed.
“While Nomadic cattle rearers , who have been taking their cattle out for grazing have abandoned their business, as the environment is no longer safe for them. Same thing goes with the fishermen. The lives of those that are still involved in the businesses are also at stake, because attacks from Boko Haram can occur at any moment in any place.
According to him, some of the crops being produced in Mibbar, Kukawa, Magumeri, Gubio, Baga, Monguno, Nganzai and Guzamala areas are also perishable and need to be consumed on time.
Consequently, the security challenges in the past one to two years had also led to poor cultivation of farmlands, harvest of farm produce, transportation of farm produce, high transport cost, displacement of people ,properties and high risk to lives from periodic attacks.
The Special Adviser added that Niger , Chad and Cameroon republics sharing borders with Nigeria in the North East part are also affected. Traders from this country can no longer come to Maiduguri (Borno) to buy or sell.
“The borders were closed some time ago and occupied by Boko Haram Fighters, restricting movements, , importation or exportation from the countries which affected their economy. The Niger Republic economy is also affected, as it shares a border with Nigeria and both countries benefit from each other socio economically and politically”.
Meanwhile, The Operations Officer of the Lake Chad Basin Fishery Association, Alh. Labo Dahiru on behalf of the National Chairman, Alhaji Garba Gamadi told our correspondent in Maiduguri that the voluntary surrendering of the Boko Haram Fighters at the Lake Chad Basin has tremendously resulted in increasing number of fishermen who have returned to fishery business and commended the state government as well as the security agencies for their role and support.
He further called on the state government and other organizations to support them with fishing inputs and kits among others to boost their business, while expressing gratitude for the recent state governors financial assistance to the association members.
How Continuous Voluntary Surrendering Of Boko Haram Fighters Impacts On Agricultural Activities In Borno
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