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Food shortages forecast after militants force Nigerian farmers to flee

June 21, 2013 at 12:34 PM

ABUJA, Nigeria, June 21 (UPI) -- Militants are killing or threatening farmers and teachers, instead of fighting with soldiers, in the latest wave of violence in northern Nigeria, officials say.

About 19,000 farmers have abandoned their fields and children are afraid to go to school because of attacks and threats by Boko Haram insurgents, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.

Since Sunday, two teachers and 16 children have been killed in attacks on two schools.

Serious food shortages are expected across the region, said Borno state agriculture commission Usman Zannah, from crop failures after farmers fled the area around New Marte.

The wheat and rice irrigation project in the area began last year with the national government providing about 25,000 acres of land, seed and expertise as incentive.

Boko Haram overran the area in January, driving out program administrators and threatening farmers.

Ahmed Bura fled to a town on the border with Cameroon, leaving behind 85 acres of wheat and rice that was almost ready for harvest.

"It is painful to lose such a huge swath of crops, but we would have lost our lives and the crops if we had stayed," he said.

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