Agricultural stakeholders have blamed the rising cost of farm produce, livestock feeds, and other commodities, on the worsening security in the country.
They also lamented that many farmers, especially in the North, no longer sleep in their farms, but live in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps due to fear of being kidnapped or killed by bandits and insurgents.
The stakeholders, who stated these in separate interviews with reporters in Abuja yesterday, however, said the prize of many farm produce, especially beans, could drop by half if peace was returned to the North.
A commercial maize farmer from Benue State, Tarnongo Vitalis, warned that the high costs of farm produce could persist if nothing was done to make farmers return to their farms.
Vitalis said that the situation had led to an increase in the price of a bag of maize from less than N18,000 to over N30,000 and a bag of soybean from N 22,000 to over N40,000.
He also noted that farm inputs such as fertiliser and chemicals have become very expensive for farmers to afford.
His words: “For the first time in history, a bag of maize has gone over N30,000 from less than N18,000 because farmers cannot access their farms again due to high increase in banditry, kidnapping, and terrorism.
“Apart from this, maize is not available for people to buy, a bag of soybean is also sold for over N40,000 as against less than N22,000. This is very strange.
“The high cost of farm produce in the country is because of insecurity, many farmers are in IDP camps. There are no farmers in their places to produce all these foodstuffs, that is why their prices are high.”
President of Igangan Agro Park Investors Association (IAPIA), Femi Abioye, lamented that farmers in some parts of the Northwest pay bandits before harvesting their crops.
Abioye said the lingering security challenges are contributory factors to the high cost of food items.
According to him, “rice farmers cannot harvest until they pay bandits, and sometimes when they don’t pay, their farms are set ablaze.”
He added: “We have fewer people on the farms compared to five years ago. Northeast for example, if there is peace in that zone, the cost of beans will go down by at least 50 percent because they are the largest producers of beans and a large percentage of the farming community has been destroyed.
“In the South, criminal herdsmen keep destroying farmers’ crops. Now, they have gone into full-blown banditry and kidnapping for ransom. They also kill farmers. In the last two years, we have few farmers in the region, I have not slept on my farm and I am into commercial agriculture.”.