By Fortune Eromosele, Abuja
Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, yesterday, said the crisis between farmers and herders in the country, poses a huge threat to the nation’s agricultural sector.
He stated this at the 2nd National Executive Council, NEC, meeting, organised by the Nigeria Union of Agriculture and Allied Employees, NUAAE, in Abuja. Ortom, who was ably repented by his Chief of Staff, Gabriel Nyitse, berated the heightened spate of insecurity that has befallen farmers in the country.
His words, “Herders/farmers clashes is a huge challenge that is constantly bedevilling this country and her farmers. If this is not addressed, Nigeria in the next two years could be overrun by the challenges of insecurity.
“Half of people in Niger, Nasarawa State and in the north-east have been surrounded by bandits. So where are we heading to? We are heading for serious food crises. And food crises is a big challenge to any country in the world, Nigeria cannot afford to be in this position.
“As the federal government is doing its best in ensuring security in the country and for our farmers, a lot still has to be done, we need to secure our farms so that unions such as this will have cause to invest heavily in the agricultural sector.”
On his part, National President of NUAAE, Comrade Simon Anchaver, said Nigeria needs to channel her resources, workforce to ensuring food security, noting that the country should not be dependent on oil alone, but to see agriculture as a sustainable way of growing the economy.
He said, “As most people will agree, agriculture Is the reason why society makes all the progress it records especially from the food we eat. Nigeria is a large country of about 200 million people and 65 percent are farmers. We must therefore strive towards the attainment of food security which will provide good nutrition, good health and viable Labour.
“Today, Nigeria is a net food importer, spending trillions of naira on basic food items, yet Nigeria has over 84 million hectares of available Land and perfect weather to grow crops all year round. The agric union wants to be more involved in the issues that affect the agric Sector of the Country.
He called on the federal government to resolve the problem of seedlings, equipments, interest rate and create extension service stations in all the 774 local government areas to guide farmers on how best to carry out their businesses.
He further said government should pay greater attention to agriculture and allocate ten percent of the annual budget to the agricultural sector against the backdrop of the reduction in price of crude oil in the international market.
“The oil and gas sectors are no longer sustainable and there is need to diversify and revive the agricultural sector,” he added.
Speaking in the same vein, Vice Chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress, FCT-chapter, Comrade Agah Ukpai said safety of lives and property of farmers should be the epicentre of the country in promoting national development.
“The federal government needs to rise to the occasion of curtailing the challenge of banditry, herdsmen in the country. Farmers don’t go to farm again, because they are scared of been killed or kidnapped.
“The food crises we have is caused by this issues of banditry, which implies the increase in the price of food. Therefore, the call for an urgent intervention to protect the lives of our farmers,” he said.