Farmers in Nigeria’s north eastern state of Taraba are being forced off lands they have farmed for generations to make way for US company Dominion Farms to establish a 30,000 ha rice plantation.
The Dominion Farms project forms part of the G8’s New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Africa and the Nigerian government’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda, which are both intended to enhance food security and livelihoods for small farmers in Nigeria. A new report, however, finds that the Dominion Farms project is having the opposite effect.
The report was produced by two Nigerian NGOs, Environmental Rights Action (ERA)/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (FoEN) and Centre for Environmental Education and Development (CEED), with the support of Global Justice Now and GRAIN. It is based on field investigations and interviews conducted with local farmers, community leaders and government officials.
The report shows how the lands provided to Dominion Farms are part of a public irrigation scheme that thousands of families depend on for their food needs and livelihoods. The local people were not consulted about the Dominion Farms project and, although the company has already started to occupy the lands, they are still completely in the dark about any plans for compensation or resettlement. Dominion Farms is involved in a similar land grab for a rice farm in Kenya that has generated conflicts with local communities.
“The only story we hear is that our land is taken away and will be given out. We were not involved at any level,” says Rebecca Sule, one of the affected woman farmers from the Gassol Community in Taraba State. “For the sake of the future and our children, we are requesting governmental authorities to ask Dominion Farms to stay away from our land.”
“Our land is very rich and good. We produce a lot of different crops here, and we farm fish and rear goats, sheep and cattle,” says Mallam Danladi K Jallo, another local farmer from Gassol. “But since the Dominion Farms people arrived with their machine and some of their working equipment, we were asked to stop our farm work and even leave our lands as the land is completely given to the Dominion Farms project.”
“The local people are united in their opposition to the Dominion Farms project,” says Raymond Enoch, one of the authors of the report and director of CEED. “They want their lands back so that they can continue to produce food for their families and the people of Nigeria.”
Nigeria is already suffering from violent conflicts and insecurity, especially in the North. Land grabs for agribusiness projects will only make the situation worse.