Hardship: Stealing From Farms Spreads Across Nigeria

by Ohepo Ohepo

Authored by The Bureau Newspaper Correspondent

Nigeria’s food security is under threat as criminals increasingly target farm produce, stealing them just before harvest. This issue varies by region, with southern farmers facing petty thefts, while those in the north contend with more organized crime due to hunger and insecurity.

The Bureau Newspaper Weekend’s investigations across 15 states have highlighted thefts on private farms, signaling a widespread problem. This comes as the World Bank warns that seven states in the Northwest and Northeast are at risk of severe food insecurity due to insecurity, armed conflicts, and declining living standards.

The crisis is exacerbated by ECOWAS sanctions on Niger Republic and the devaluation of the Naira, making it more lucrative for food to be diverted from Nigeria to neighboring countries. Despite food being cheaper in Nigeria compared to West African states, the impact of the Naira’s value has not been fully acknowledged.

Professor Hassan Ishaq Ibrahim, an agricultural economist, warns of potential famine in conflict-ridden areas unless government interventions are made. He notes that farmers have the right to sell their produce where they can profit most, amidst claims that many prefer selling to neighboring countries due to better prices.

Farmers admit to challenges posed by insecurity and theft but are reluctant to discuss their produce being sold abroad. Most thefts go unreported, with no formal investigations into their economic impact conducted by federal or state governments.

In Bauchi, farmer Gayus Musa struggles after thieves targeted his guinea corn farm, impacting his family’s livelihood. Similarly, in Jigawa, Lukeman Abdulmalik recounts losses from his rice farm to theft, a blow to his investment in agriculture.

Akwa Ibom farmers also face drought and theft, resorting to collective harvesting to mitigate losses. The state government’s intervention aims to support affected farmers.

In Osun, theft has discouraged some from continuing farming, with individuals like Mr. Ademola Adeolu suffering significant losses. Meanwhile, Katsina farmers confront theft, often by women and children posing as laborers, leading to community vigilance to protect crops.

These incidents reflect the broader challenges facing Nigeria’s agricultural sector, underscoring the need for comprehensive solutions to secure the nation’s food supply.

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