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Extortion, bad roads reasons for high cost of food — C’River farmers

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Farmers and community leaders in parts of the Cross River northern senatorial district have lamented excessive extortions by government agents and the terrible state of evacuation roads for farm produce.

Agriculture is the main source of income in the northern area, including Yala, Ogoja, Obudu, Bekwarra, and Obanliku.

Farmers, in different interviews, said excessive extortion and a bad road network are their two major problems.

They said these have contributed to the wastage of their farm crops as they are unable to convey their produce to the urban centres and markets due to the bad roads across the communities.

A community leader in Okuku, Yala LGA, Joseph Odey, said: “The issue of numerous extortion checkpoints in these villages and towns has become very worrisome.

“On market days, when farmers try to transport their crops, they encounter many checkpoints manned by so-called government agents who extort money.

“Some claim to be agricultural produce inspectors, but they don’t inspect anything—they just extort the farmers.

“This not only discourages farmers from taking their produce to market but also causes an increase in prices for our people to buy to feed their families in these hard times.”

Another farmer, Oko Efuji, said the problem is even worse during the rainy season, from June to October, which is also the main harvest season and the end of the farming period.

The farmers called on Governor Bassey Otu to urgently prioritise the development of rural roads and to give the local government councils the resources and orders to start fixing the local roads.

“It would be a great help for us in Cross River North if the governor can address these issues quickly as we approach another harvest season. You can help lift us out of poverty by giving us good roads in our rural villages and towns,” Efuji said.