From Felix Ikem, Nsukka
Mr. Stephen Akombo, the National President of the Association of United Farm Products, Traders and Livestock Dealers of Nigeria has warned government at all levels that attack and killing of farmers if allowed to continue will result to shortage of food and other agro essential commodities in the country.
Akombo gave the warning on Saturday in Nsukka during the Association’s induction of Mrs Zainab Mohammed as their National Matron at Imilike in Udenu Local Government Area of Enugu State.
Recall that over 50 rice farmers were slaughtered a week ago by Boko Haram insurgents during an attack on a rice farm in Zabarmari town near Maiduguri Borno state capital, coupled with reports of incessant attacks and destruction of farm lands in other parts of the country by fulani herdsmen.
He said that Nigeria is already facing challenge of food insecurity, especially in the north eastern and north-central states where conflicts, insurgency, kidnapping, armed banditry and weather extremes are aggravating the food insecurity situation, adding that a situation where farmers will be waylaid and slaughtered in their farmland means that farmers will withdraw from farm because of insecurity which automatically result to escalation of food shortage.
“If the renewed attacks on farmers and the destruction of farmland by herdsmen is allowed to continue, then this country will be plugged into shortage of food which will not be good for the growth and development of our country.
“Government at all levels should as a matter of urgency and necessity provide and ensure adequate security for farmers.
“Currently, the high cost of foods in the market is as a result of shortage of food production. Therefore, if the farmers are forced to withdraw from their farm because of insecurity it means that there will be food crisis in the country which will be a bad omen to a developing country like Nigeria.
“The target of the association is to ensure steady food production, distribution and marketing of it, and to engage government and other relevant stakeholders on support and provision of farm implements,” he said.
He, however, appealed to farmers not to be discouraged but to keep faith, remain focused and resolute adding that better days are ahead.
Earlier in his welcome address, Chief James Ugwu, the National Patron of the Association who hosted the occasion in Imilike, his country home said that “the importance of matron in this Association cannot be overemphasized owing to the fact that about 65% of our membership women.”
Chief Ugwu who was the former Executive Chairman of Udenu local government area further stressed that”as United farm products traders and livestock dealers of Nigeria the association is well positioned at the most critical area of Nigeria’s today’s need which is food sufficiency to feed its over 2 million Nigerians.
“Mrs Zainab as President of Women Chambers of Commerce, Agriculture Mines & Industry, National Coordinator, Partnership for Rural Women Development and with me as a member of National Board of Trustee of Nigeria agricultural Inputs Dealers Association, I believe we are more suited to take the association to an enviable height, he said.
Also speaking, Mr Godwin East Coordinator of the association thanked Mrs Zainab for accepting to be the National Matron of the farmers group. He added that “her coming on board will add value and attract good fortunes to the association.”
In her reaction Zainab said that she is overwhelmed by the show of love accorded to her by the members of the association. She added that the induction is a call for more work and service for humanity, promising that she will do all her best to move the association to the next level.
She said that effort will be geared towards engaging government to redouble efforts aimed at improving food production and processing activities to ensure food security across the states and also boost exports.
The highpoint of the occasion was conferment of a chieftaincy title “Ada-Dina-Mba 1 of Igbo Land by HRM Igwe John Egwuatu of Imilike Community on Mrs. Zainab.
The occasion was attended by National Executives members of the association and representatives of South East branch.