Nigeria likely to face a food crisis after the Boko Haram massacre: all you need to know
An attack by the extremist group Boko Haram has killed 110 farmers in Nigeria, according to Edward Kallon, a UN resident and humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria. The search for many missing victims is currently underway and the death toll is expected to rise further.
Boko Haram, a jihadist group that has been operating in the region since 2009 to forge a caliphate in northeastern Nigeria, has claimed responsibility for the killings. Its leader Abubakar Shekau, in a video posted on Tuesday, said he was “responsible for what happened in Maiduguri in recent days, especially in Zabarmari.”
Why did Boko Haram target farmers?
Boko Haram, a Hausa term that loosely translates to ‘Western education is prohibited’, is infamous for the 2014 kidnapping of 276 Chibook schoolgirls. He is vehemently opposed to the westernization of Nigeria and adheres to strict Sharia law. The killings were in retaliation for the capture of a jihadist soldier by the villagers.
In the video posted by Boko Haram, an unknown jihadist can be heard referring to the action of the villagers: “Did you think that you would arrest our brothers and hand him over to the army and live in peace?” you could hear him say.
The government has been unable to protect the villagers because the countryside is unfamiliar terrain for the army.
What impact will it have on Nigeria’s food security?
The deadly attacks have sparked outrage and fear throughout the region. The Nigerian President’s spokesman, Muhammadu Buhari, blamed the victims for not cooperating with the army, while an army spokesman accused them of collusion with the insurgents by failing to alert the security forces.
Fearing further reprisals, farmers have stopped going to their fields, which is affecting Nigeria’s grain stocks. “Now it is extremely difficult to get farmers to easily go to their farms in various parts of the country,” Kabir Ibrahim, president of the Nigerian Farmers Association, told Bloomberg.
The UN is equally concerned about the future of Nigeria’s farming community and has reiterated its commitment to supporting Borneo’s most vulnerable communities.
“Saturday’s incident is especially heartbreaking as this year we are experiencing some of the highest levels of food insecurity in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states. In these three states, the most recent official data indicates that 4.3 million people are currently critically food insecure, and the number could reach 5.1 million during the lean season between June and August next year. Rural communities in Borno state face incalculable difficulties. Helping them farm their land and rebuild their livelihoods is among our priorities and the only way to avoid the looming food crisis in Borno state. They and all other civilians need protection and further assistance to survive in the coming months, ”said the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria in a press release.
Bloomberg reported that Nigeria’s stocks have dropped to less than 30,000 metric tons, which is a fraction of what the country of 200 million people needs to sustain itself. It is also fueling food inflation and greatly undermining the president’s plans to achieve Nigeria’s food security.