Farmers in Gombe State are taking rare steps to safeguard their crops as a result of the increasing cases of theft of farm produce. While some farmers now sleep on their farms to keep vigil, others pay a fortune to vigilantes to safeguard their farms, as they prepare for harvest.
FarmingFarmersFarms found that farmers now keep 24-hour vigilance over their yet-to-be harvested crops. For instance, Nasiru Usman, one of the farmers disclosed that he had moved temporarily to his farm in the Nono community because he could not afford to pay anyone to watch over his farm. Usman said having spent huge sum purchasing inputs, he could not afford such extra expenses, hence he decided to keep vigil on his farm until his crops were harvested and transported to a safer place. Ayuba Ali, another farmer from Billiri, said crop theft was the major challenge faced by farmers in almost all villages in Billiri, adding that the development had forced farmers in the area to adopt measures to safeguard their produce.
Ali decried that some farmers pay up to N40,000 or more monthly, per vigilante and engaged more than one official depending on the size of their farms. “This is now a must; if you don’t, you lose your investment. For me, I don’t have that kind of money to spend. So, I have moved temporarily to my farm to sleep there and watch over my farm, especially at night when they sneak into farms to carry out their wicked acts”, he said. Ali informed that it had not been easy since he started sleeping on his farm as this was his first time, adding that he had no option because he invested a lot in view of the high prices of inputs, especially fertilizer procurement.
For Idris Garba, from Deba community, who cultivated 15 hectares of rice farmland, bemoaned a sad story of continued spending until harvest. Garba said in two months, he had spent N100,000 to engage two vigilantes that he paid N25,000 each, monthly to watch over his farm day and night. “I have two vigilantes, who guard my farm against thieves; one watches during the day and the other at night. I pay them N25,000 each. So, each month, I spend N50,000 and for two months running now, I have been paying them. It will continue until I harvest all my produce”, he lamented.
Haruna Kwami, a farmer from Kwami LGA, said there was no crop that was not prone to being stolen, noting that hunger was a major cause of the rising cases of crop theft. Kwami counseled farmers in the state to take measures to safeguard their farms, as many of them had done, saying if they do not, they would have nothing to harvest. The state police spokesman, ASP Mahid Abubakar, revealed that such complaint had not been received at the command, but could not tell if such had been received at the divisional level. He advised farmers in the state to cultivate the attitude of reporting such cases, saying “If we receive such reports, we will know how to provide adequate security. What you don’t know you can’t act on; I am just hearing this from you, but if we have a formal complaint from the affected farmers, we will take measures”, the police officer said.