In recent times, Nigeria has witnessed an alarming surge in insecurity on farms, posing significant threats to food production and livelihoods of rural communities. To gain deeper insights into the complexities of this issue, an investigative journey was undertaken, featuring interviews with the Head of the Oyo State Local Police Unit in Igangan (Amotekun Igangan Unit), along with his team. The objective was to assess the insecurity faced by Nigerian farmers from the perspective of local law enforcement.
1. Proliferation of armed groups
One of the predominant factors identified by the local policing authorities as driving farm insecurity in Nigeria is the widespread proliferation of armed groups. These groups, including bandits, insurgents, and local militias, have taken advantage of the existing security vacuum. The police team’s observations are consistent with reports from organisations like Save the Children, which have documented the presence of these groups responsible for numerous farmer fatalities and kidnappings, between January and June 2023.
2. Farmers-herders conflicts
A significant concern brought to the forefront during the interviews was the enduring challenge of farmer-herder conflicts. These conflicts stem primarily from disputes over land and resources, leading to violent confrontations. The police team emphasised that these clashes have disrupted food production, led to civilian casualties, and cost livelihoods that findings in line with the observations of the Global Food Crisis Report.
3. Economic motivations
Our interviews with local policing authorities shed light on the economic motivations behind farm insecurity. Kidnappings for ransom have become an extremely profitable enterprise. Farmers, due to their crucial role in ensuring food security, are increasingly targeted for their economic value, with ransoms extracted from such kidnappings serving as significant funding sources for armed groups.
4. Weak law enforcement
The inadequacy of law enforcement, as articulated during the interviews, stands out as a pivotal factor contributing to the intensifying insecurity on farms. Many regions suffer from a lack of robust police presence due to limited resources and systemic inefficiencies. This permissive environment has allowed criminal activities to thrive, echoing the concerns highlighted by the local policing authorities.
5. Climate change and resource scarcity
Local policing authorities also emphasised the profound impacts of climate change, such as prolonged droughts and desert encroachment, which have exacerbated resource scarcity. This scarcity has further escalated farmer-herder conflicts, making the competition for dwindling resources even more intense. Climate change has also disrupted traditional farming practices, making farmers more vulnerable to insecurity, aligning with the findings of the Global Food Crisis Report.
6. Governance and social factors
The interviews with local policing authorities underscored the role of governance, or its lack, in contributing to widespread social unrest. Factors such as corruption, limited development, and restricted access to education were recognised as key elements that lead to social disarray. The authorities pointed out that disenfranchised youth, denied access to education and employment opportunities, may resort to criminal activities, including affiliations with armed groups.
Insights from interviews with the Head of Oyo State Local Police Unit in Igangan (Amotekun) and his team reveal a multifaceted crisis surrounding insecurity on Nigerian farms. These insights underline the urgency of adopting a comprehensive approach that addresses the interconnected economic, social, and environmental factors contributing to this crisis. Protecting Nigeria’s food security and preserving the livelihoods of countless farmers hinge on unified efforts to confront these challenges. The resilience of the nation’s agriculture sector is contingent on a collaborative commitment to comprehensively address these complex issues and seek enduring solutions spanning economic, social, and governance dimensions.