Islamic militants force 19,000 farmers from northeast Nigeria, fears of food shortages

Officials say Islamic militants have driven 19,000 rice farmers from northeast Nigeria while a military crackdown is preventing thousands more from working their fields.

Agriculture commissioner Usman Zannah in Borno state warns food shortages are imminent in the fifth week of a state of emergency in the vast region.

Zannah told The Associated Press Tuesday that roadblocks prevent farmers from reaching their fields while those in the hinterlands cannot reach towns to buy fertilizer and hire labor.

Chad Basin Development Authority director Garba Iliya said last week that 10,000 hectares of rice paddies have been abandoned by some 19,000 farmers at the peak of the harvesting season.

Islamic militants have killed more than 150 people in attacks in northeast Nigeria this year. Soldiers are accused of killing dozens of civilians.