Watching their hard efforts go down the drain is the hardest thing some communities must come to terms with as floods continue to ravage communities across the country. SAM EGWU (Lokoja), GEORGE OKOJIE (Lagos) ABU NMODU (Minna) and BERNARD TOLARIN DADA (Uyo) reports on some of the losses suffered by Nigerians recently in floods.
As communities wait patiently for floods water to rescind, not a few of the people caught in this year’s flood hope to return to their normal life. This is being the fact that the impact of the natural disaster has been predicted to be enormous on the communities affected. Mallam Abdulkadir Yunusa, a farmer in Patigi in Kwara who saw his farmland submerged 24hours after he had planned to evacuate his maize. To add to his pains, his rice farm were totally submerged by the rising water of River Niger. “I had harvested my maize and waiting for trucks to come and transport them to my store house in Patigi town but only to come and see water taking over everything. In fact I couldn’t see anything farm except water and water alone. It was shocking even as I lost my rice farmlands that yearly returns over N5 million naira yearly. “The maize I lost to the floods with take about eight trucks to evacuate to the store house. I lost millions of naira so are many other farmers in this state,” Yunusa said. Like the Kwara born farmer, millions of Nigerians are affected in one way or the other in the current flood crisis across the country. From farmlands to agricultural produces; from homes to roads, bridges to schools buildings and in some cases loss of lives.
In some communities, school pupils and student may have to tarry a while to allow their classrooms submerged by floods water to dry up for them to resume back from the long holidays. Some, LEADERSHIP Weekend learnt may not meet their walls still standing as it has been washed away by the flood. On his submission on the impact of the flood in Kogi State, the state commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Hon. Oloruntoba Keinde, while speaking with our correspondent in Lokoja viewed that the impact of flood on agriculture as enormous considering the amount of money and technology that would be consumed and wasted by the flood. According to Keinde, the situation portends radically, a creation of unemployment as those on the field would be rendered jobless, houses, technical inputs and improved seeds in rice that much has been spent on by the government of Alhaji Yahaya Bello would be wasted. Of course, he said rice absorbs a lot of water but what the flood has supplied or would supply the rice field surpasses what is needed and will cause devastation. “Flood usually come in the night when people are fast asleep asking people living on flood plains to leave and move to higher ground. The ground has become saturated: its percolation and absorption levels have reduced considerably”, he opined.
Aside Rivers Niger and Benue, he said that other rivers across the country had started overflowing their banks due to distortion in pattern of rainfall and charged Nigerians to prepare for more floods this year.
In line with the crisis in the state, the Kogi State High court in Kotokarfe has been submerged and relocation has been approved by the chief Judge of Kogi State, Justice Nasiru Ajanah who has met with Ohimege of Kotokarfe, Alhaji Isah Koto for a fresh plot of land. Meanwhile, the state government has tasked State Emergency Management Agency, NEMA to immediately commence education and enlightenment of residents on the impending flood which has greatest damage potential of all disasters. In the present situation, the NEMA official advised the state government to immediately identify high grounds, establish camps and pre position drugs, foods and non food items in readiness for the flood, called on them to discourage violation of town planning laws, check dumping of refuse in rivers and poor drainage system and control location of settlements along river banks to mitigate effects of flooding. The executive secretary of the Kogi State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA, Mr Alhassan Ayegba said that the organisation was fully at alert for the impending flood, that the organisation was expanding its frontier of response to emergency. Agencies from fire service, Nigeria Medical Association, Red Cross, security operatives, paramilitary agencies, religious groups, relevant ministries and agencies and departments and civil society groups have been put on red alert to assuage the pains and pangs of flood which has already submerged about 32 communities in Ibaji, Kotokarfe, Igalamela, Kpareke, Felele, NATACO, Idah and Ofu in Kogi State.
Schools in emergency camps in Niger State
In Niger state there are few cases of bandit and farmers/herdsmen clashes, but there are several cases of flood that led to opening of camps every raining season. The few cases of banditry were recorded in Allawa in Shiroro local government but normalcy has returned and the people are save in their communities while the farmers /herder clashes in some few areas in the have since being resolved and grazing reserves being developed by the state government. In terms of flood, the state emergency agency, NSEMA hinted that 55 communities were affected and 11 camps opened. It was observed that the camps were opened near flood free communities where there are schools that could absolve both the teachers and students /pupil as the school resume.
N2bn lost in Benue
In Benue state, the chairman of All Farmers Association of Nigeria, ( AFAN) comrade Aondona Hembe- Kuhe, has said that Farmers in the state during the flood lost more than N2 billion following the washing away of their farm land by the disaster. According to him most of the farmers were also displaced as their homes were also affected and properties worth billions of naira were as well destroyed. The chairman lamented that the worst of it was that most farmers took loans from the bank, some even died because of the shock and up till date no farmer has been compensated by the federal government for the lost . The association, according the chairman is still appealing to the federal government to compensate the Benue farmer with the sum of N4 billion for the lost they incurred.
The AFAN boss averred that the economic impact of flood on Agriculture in Benue State is so enormous especially in the affected communities following the mass destruction of farm lands and houses, many farmers are yet to rebuilt the affected houses and as well engaged in commercial farming again which has brought untold hardship on farmers thereby encouraging rural-urban migration. According him, if the flood problems in the state is not addressed, coupled with the Farmers/Herdsmen crises, Nigeria and the state will suffer from hunger.
He disclosed that due to congestion at the displaced persons camp diseases like cholera among others were the order of the day with high rate of poverty.
The Impact affect market prices of produce causing price rate to rise significantly. He decried the level of poverty, suffered by the affected communities owing to flood and increase crime wave in the communities and society at large According to him “The flood has also cut off the link roads of some communities to the extent that the little they produce cannot be taken to the nearby markets.”
Lagos hold on to their property, Ogun has losses Also, in Lagos State and neighbouring states, LEADERSHIP Sunday gathered that the farmers have not really witnessed flood disasters in their farms this season. Investigations carried out in Epe area of Lagos and Ofada community in Ogun State where farmers have hectares of rice plantation showed that their farmlands and crops have not been washed away by erosion this year. According to Mosusudeen Ayola, a rice farmer in Ofada , Ogun State, ’’ apart from rice farming ,we are into fish, pig farming and we plant crops such as cassava also. Our farmlands have not been affected by flooding this year. ‘’The last flood disaster we witnessed in the state so far this year was in Abeokuta where many houses and vehicles were badly damaged by the flood. The areas mostly affected by the flood included Ijaiye, Kuto, Lafenwa, Oke Lantoro, Amolaso, Kobiti, Ilawo, Ijeun –Titun and Ago -Ijesha. About eleven people died, houses and vehicles were affected. We felt it was not the down pour that caused it, may be the authority of the Ogun-Oshun River Basin Development Agency (OORDA) could have released water from their dam. But then it did not affect farms.’’ In Epe, Lagos Ibrahim Waliu, a Cassava farmer said‘’ The way rain has been falling this year is alright, not too much. We have not recorded so much flooding in this place that will wash away our crops. I have hectares of cassava farm. The plants are doing well.’’Clement Odebunmi , an Agric economists said if floods wash away crops and farmlands in other parts of the country, especially in the Northern part regarded as food baskets of the country it could result in food crisis. He said, ‘’ Such occurrence can escalate poverty, food scarcity and rise in food prices. At this point it is imminent for the government to take prompt action. Otherwise famine is lurking in the country. ‘’The government could also take proactive steps by forming a National Committee on Flood Relief and Rehabilitation as we witnessed in the past to raise additional funds to tackle the situation.’’
A’Ibom farmers groan as incessant floods ravage farmlands With the anticipated mass food shortage that accompanied the recession period last year, there was massive campaign for every Nigerian to till the soil and plant any edibles. In line with this development, most Nigerians heeded the call to become emergency farmers, turning every available space into emergency farmlands. No doubt, the intervention has boosted heavy yields from crops with markets flooded with agricultural produce from rice, yam and garri, to other edibles including vegetables.
To further crash the market price of essential goods, the Akwa Ibom State agricultural intervention has seen the drop in the prices of garri, foofoo, tomatoes and other vegetables, through huge investment in green land production and poultry. Although checks in major markets in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital revealed a significant drop in unit prices of essential items, farmers have expressed fears that such bumper period may be short-lived due to incessant rainfall that has devastated farmlands in the State. “The entire crops in my farmland in the green area of Ekpene Ukim, in Uruan Local Governnment Area have been completely washed off by erosion caused by incessant rainfall”, Effiong Bassey, a commercial farmer laments.
Bassey, who specialises in vegetables production including cucumber, waterleaf, pumpkin, afang leafs and other fruits, said “we will soon witness another round of food scarcity because of this sustained rains and floods”.
Speaking to LEADERSHIP Weekend at Akpan Andem markets, Itam market, Etuk Street market in Uyo, the State capital and Urua Mkpafi, in Etinan local government area, the farmers who spoke on the sideline of their wares, solicited for government intervention. “Government should assist us to embark on dry season farming soon after the rain so as to cushion the effect of the impending food scarcity”, Miss Etieno Udousoro, told our Correspondent at Urua Mkpafi, in Etinan local government area. Although the commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Uduak Charles Udoinyang, could not avail himself for comment on the matter, a senior go vernment official, who would not want his name in print, said “the administration of governor Udom Emmanuel, has done a lot of interventions to boost the sector. To cushion the effect of food scarcity and rice in food prices, the governor has invested so much in the sector by making farmers have easy access to affordable agric inputs like fertilizer and seedlings. “The governor has injected enough resources into garri and foofoo production as well as massive investment in rice production at the green land of Ini Local Government Area, and these measures would help to boost all-year-round food availability and affordability”, he explained
He, therefore, dispelled the fears of impending food scarcity occasioned by the incessant rainfall in the State and enjoined farmers to grow out of the outdated farming method into a more developed method. In the same vein, the chairman of the Cross River Basin Development Authority (CRBDA), Rt. Hon. Eseme Eyiboh, stressed the need for farmers to imbibe what he called “smart climate” farming strategy for all-year-round agricultural production. According to him, such agricultural system, which constituted part of the mandate to revive all moribund Basin Authorities in Nigeria, would boost accelerate agricultural development and generate more revenues to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).