The Chairman of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria in Benue State, Aondongu Saaku, says incessant attacks by killer herdsmen have led to a drastic reduction in irrigation farming in the state, despite support by the Federal Government.
Saaku said over 500 hectares of farmlands along riverine areas had been abandoned by farmers over security concerns. According to him, irrigation farming inputs supplied to Benue State by the Federal Government are now lying fallow.
The AFAN chairman, who spoke to journalists at the weekend, said, “Insecurity is the major bane of irrigation farming in Benue State because when you prepare the farmlands at the river banks, armed herdsmen make it impossible for you to continue.
“Most of the communities around the river banks of River Benue are affected, beginning from the branch of River Katsina-Ala down to Logo area, from Ayilamo to Anyebe, where we are planning the irrigation farming because the land is good.
“But because the vegetation is always green there, the herders that usually come in their numbers use these river banks to graze their cattle.
“So it becomes impossible, and some people who actually struggled and farm around these river banks in the past lost their lives. So, since then, farmers have been afraid to go to such areas. “Over 500 hectares of farmland along the river banks have remained uncultivated due to Insecurity.
“If you go to my office now, some tools meant for irrigation farming that the Federal Government supplied us, such as machines, fallow pumps and solar mobile irrigation pumps, are lying fallow. No farmer is ready to have them because of fear.”
Saaku appealed to the Federal Government for security at the river banks across the state to enable farmers to engage in irrigation farming.
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