January 28, 2023

Farmers dumping trade in Nigeria’s potato capital due to attacks: officials

File photo: Farmers display large bags of potatoes in Maikatako, a rural market in Bokkos

Officials in Nigeria’s Plateau State have said terror raids displacing thousands of rural farmers are grounding potato production in the State.

Continued attacks in the last three weeks have forced thousands of farmers to flee from six villages in the Bokkos Local Government Area of the State according to the Chairman, Joseph Guluwa.

The latest attack in a western potato farming town known as Wumat on 23 November killed at least ten farmers and injured more than 20 others according to media reports.

Bokkos is the potato producing capital of Nigeria, said Guluwa on Tuesday during a tour of local villages recently attacked by terrorists. But its productivity is being crippled by the attacks which have killed at least 30 farmers since October 8, he said.

“Many of our farmers no longer feel safe going to their farms,” Guluwa told our correspondent. “A lot of the potato farms needing irrigation due to the dryness of the winter have died off,” Guluwa said.

“This means in the coming weeks when consumers will be expecting our potato products, we will have less to supply because of the attacks,” he added, noting his administration was working to reconcile farmers and herders in areas they seem to have conflicts to prevent bandit terrorists from taking advantage of them.

“The recent attacks started from mere farmer-herder conflicts but soon transformed into bandit terrorists attacks,” he said.

“We are currently organizing dialogues for farmers and herders across communities that have had one problem or the other so we could prevent such [terrorists attacks], he noted.

The State Commissioner for Higher Education, Prof Benard Matur who accompanied Guluwa on the tour expressed worry the Local Government is losing revenue from farming which could be used to improve learning in the State.

Matur who is a native of Bokkos said if the attacks would be solved, the Local Government could compete with Israel in agricultural exports.