Thieves, herdsmen posing a major challenge to Plateau farmers,says AFAN

Farmers in Plateau have decried the persistent stealing of crops on farmlands, and declared that the situation was posing a major threat to the prospects of a bountiful harvest.

Some of them, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Jos, said that the thieves usually invade yam, maize, sugar cane, rice, cassava, fruits and cocoa yam farms at night.

"From the effect of their visits, it us clear that they usually come in large numbers; if this situation persists, our prospects of a bumper harvest will be a mirage," Mrs. Sarah Chuwang, Chairperson, Plateau chapter of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), said.

She said that some farmers, who had ventured to guard their farms, were beaten up by the thieves.

"Government must come in to protect the farms and their owners because the situation is scary," she said.

Chuwang also decried the activities of herdsmen who, she said, had formed the habit of invading farms at night with their animals.

"The animals usually destroy crops, especially maize, beans, fruits and cassava.

"In most cases, the farmers are usually afraid to approach the culprits for fear of being attacked," she said.

She said that the situation had posed a serious challenge to farmers that had worked so hard and invested so much toward good harvests.

Chuwang called on government to take appropriate steps to address the issues so to as avert consequent food shortages in the state and the country.

Chuwang suggested the deployment of security men to cheeck the rampant movement of animals at nights.

"Government should set up a special security outfit to protect the farms; those arrested must be made to face the full wrath of the law. It is the only way to help the farmers and save them from imminent hunger," she said.

Speaking on the development, Mr Francis Jatau, a farmer, who is also a lecturer with the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Jos, attributed the increasing crop theft to the current economic recession.

He also blamed the situation on the high rate of unemployment amongst youths, pointing out that people had resorted to stealing to survive the hard times.

The lecturer said that the rising prices of farm produce had also made such attacks attractive as the thieves were always sure of a good price for the crops they were stealing.

He expressed regret that most youths were idle, and pointed out that an idle mind had always remained the devil's workshop.

"If these youths are employed, whether in a formal or informal sector, the issue of stealing crops on the farm will be minimised," he said.

He also supported the suggestion that farmers should employ the services of security personnel to guard their farms, " specially in view of the rising cost of crop production". (NAN)