Bandits have been the sole obstacle of farmers who want to go to their farms to cultivate food in Katsina State.
In an interview with DailyTrust, farmers claim that bandits raid their farms, abducting, killing, or taxing them before they can even begin to produce their land.
According to a report by DailyTrust, from the previous farming season, every home in Batsarin-Alhaji had to pay N500 to the robbers.
Following that, the bandits asked that the locals provide fertilizer. To buy fertilizer, the people had to levy a tax on themselves.
“Once you’re on the farm these people would come and abduct, kill or harass you. I abandoned my farms that are deep inside the bush and now work on the one close to town that is only two hectares. The constant threat stopped me from going to the farm”he said
Due to the deteriorating insecurity situation in Batsari, Sani Muslim Batsari, Chairman of Batsari Local Development Association, has been compelled to stop cultivating his large fields in the woods in the previous two years.
“I was harvesting almost 300 bags, but now I harvest only 50 bags or less in my small farm that’s closer to the town.
“Bandits have taken over many forests and cleared them for farming. Some of them can harvest 3,000 bags of grains. Some villagers confided in us that these bandits have hijacked their farms without paying a kobo to them.
“Their activities are taking a toll on our well-being; they have led to shortage of food and skyrocketing prices and lack of menial jobs for your youth as the large-scale farmers that employ hundreds of them have since abandoned the farms.
“President Buhari had, during the onset of the rainy season, assured us that we would go back to our farms this season. Alas, that has remained a mirage! I can categorically tell you that now more than 70 per cent of farmers in Batsari LG have stopped farming,’’ he lamented.
Farmers in Muhammed Auwal’s village, Nahuta, have been requested to pay a charge to bandits to gain access to their farms since the previous farming season, but this hasn’t protected them from bandit attacks, according to Muhammed Auwal, 55.
“They’d seize our cattle or motorbikes. This season, they asked our neighbouring village, Kasai, to contribute money and buy fertilizer for them which they did.
Last season, every household in Nahuta had to pay N1,000 and we contributed more than N2 million as tax for the bandits which we delivered to them before they allowed us to farm. But this season, we’re lucky because they didn’t ask for tax from us maybe because soldiers have been deployed to our community. But villages surrounding us are still battling with these insecurity issues.”
Bandits confiscated Dahiru Usman Wada’s two-hectare farm and planted on it, according to Dahiru Usman Wada, 50, of Kurawa village.
“They made ridges and planted crops; their motive is to kidnap me if I went there, so I had to leave the farm to them. I have now relocated to Batsari town and got a small farm close to the town” he said
Due to insecurity in his hamlet, a farmer known only as Salisu, 45, from Tashar Modibbo, claimed he could only cultivate seven of his 20 acres of farmland.
“Even this farming season we were asked to pay N2,000 as tax for everyone who has cattle-ridge tool and I have one, so I paid N2,000 last year and this farming season.
“We contributed at least N200,000 to them. Once we fail to pay the tax; they would not allow us to farm and they can still confiscate your motorbike, mobile phone or money. No one can dare say he won’t pay the tax. We don’t inform authorities for fear of consequences,’’ he added