According to Save the Children, armed groups in Nigeria have been attacking farmers nonstop, disrupting vital food supply and raising the possibility that the nation may experience a severe food crisis this year. Increased attacks on farmers are displacing people, disrupting markets, and causing people to lose their livelihoods in many sections of the nation.
According to the Nigerian Security Tracker, between January and June 2023, armed groups killed more than 128 farmers in Nigeria and abducted 37 more. Only in Borno State in northern Nigeria did non-state armed groups kill 19 farmers in June.
Bulama has been a farmer in northeast Nigeria for 35 years, so he is accustomed to instability, but this year has been particularly challenging. Most of the farmers Bulama has worked with have been abducted or killed by armed persons.
The majority of the time, the ransom demanded by armed groups when they kidnap farmers who are also our friends and brothers is an amount that no villager can afford, according to Bulama. “They killed and took our farm’s produce, leaving us defenceless and unable to transport anything home.
Most of us in this community suffer from hunger and starvation as a result of the rebels’ refusal to allow us access to the farmlands. Even when we risk our lives in our fields, they grab everything and allow us to starve
Although farming puts his life at danger, Bulama explained that if he stops, his children will perish—a heartbreaking dilemma that is all too prevalent for farmers in the north.
The persistent insecurity, protracted wars, and anticipated increases in food costs are mostly to blame for the UN’s January forecast that more than 25 million people in Nigeria could experience food insecurity this year, a 47% increase from the 17 million people who were already at risk of going hungry.
Additionally, it is anticipated that in 2023, acute malnutrition will affect an estimated two million children under the age of five in the northeastern Nigerian states of Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe, with roughly 700,000 of those children on the verge of death.
Extreme weather events, which are occurring more frequently and with more severity as a result of the climate catastrophe, are also expected to cause far more people to go hungry than was previously anticipated. Bulama continued, “The lack of rain this year has made the hunger problem my family is currently experiencing worse. All of the crops we still have are dried and dead. Because most farmers are cutting down their dried crops in order to plant new ones, it has forced us to start over from scratch. We are starving and have nowhere to go. We are capable of going days without eating.
In order to combat food shortages, stabilise price increases, and strengthen safety for farmers facing armed group violence, Nigeria recently proclaimed a state of emergency on food insecurity. Farmers like Bulama will continue to struggle to provide for their families even when it is safe for them to farm if the climate issue is not addressed as well.
Nigeria’s Country Director for Save the Children, Famari Barro, stated: The already severe hunger situation in Nigeria is being made worse by these violent attacks against farmers, particularly in the north where millions of children are unsure of where their next meal will come from. Armed organisations carrying out these brutal deeds not only impede food production but also put children in danger.
“In order to reverse this tragic trend and safeguard the lives of the innocent, immediate action must prioritise the needs of children. If not, armed groups will carry out more horrifying assaults, raise food prices, and starve more families.
Since 2014, Save the Children has been addressing the humanitarian crisis in the northeast of Nigeria, where it has operated since 2001. Save the Children offers families in Northeast Nigeria food, clean water, nutrition and protection services, sexual and reproductive health care, and education. The government is also receiving technical assistance from Save the Children for policy adjustments and reforms, particularly in areas as important as health, education, and social protection.