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(Special Report) Herdsmen, Boat Capsizing Killing Rice Farmers in Nigeria

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Two major killers of Nigerian Rice Farmers in large scale have been identified. They are Fulani Herdsmen and use of rickety large boats that usually cap-sizes mid-sea. These twin challenges are casting doubts on the seriousness of the federal government in rice revolution in the country.
Only during the last week of December, an unspecified number of Rice farmers in Benue State were hacked to death by suspected herdsmen with no arrests made not to talk about prosecution.
Recall that majority of Benue farmers; especially Rice and Yam farmers have remained at Internally Displaced Camps for some years now, thus leading to massive drop in both rice and yam yield which further translates to rising food insecurity in the country.
Only on Tuesday, more than 20 persons were feared dead as a boat carrying about 100 farmers capsized in Koko/Besse Local Government Area of Kebbi State.
Recall that Kebbi State is home to the best rice production in the Country. The state also serves as host to leading local rice companies including Olam and Big Bull brands.
Police spokesman in Kebbi, DSP Nafiu Abubakar, confirmed the accident and promised to release details later.
Speaking with journalists on Wednesday, Chairman of the Koko/Besse Local Government Council, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, also confirmed the accident.
He said it occurred on Tuesday night when a rickety boat carried more than 100 rice farmers to Samanaji, a riverine community in the area.
He said 80 of the boat passengers had been rescued, while 10 were found dead and others still missing.
He assured that rescue operation was still on-going with a view to saving those still missing.
“Almost all the passengers are youths; small boys and girls. We have found four female and six male corpses.
“We have rescued more than 80 passengers and we are still searching for the missing others,’’ he said.
“Prior to the incident, we had called on emergency meeting with the district head of Dutsin Mari and other traditional rulers and leaders of boat operators in the area.
“The meeting was to enlighten them and warn them against use of rickety, old boats, over-loading and traveling in the night,’’ the council chairman added.
Bello recalled that the council distributed 20 new boats in 2022 in an effort to forestall boat mishaps in the area.
However, since both incidents, there had not been any statement from either the Federal Government or the Ministry of Agriculture on the growing threat to Nigerian Rice Farmers.

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