In far north, it is not only insecurity that is threatening food security, but also grave is the devastating effects of Typha grass on farmlands and fishing areas. As such the Nguru wetland rice farmers, fishermen and even herdsmen have renewed their call on government to support in eliminating the notorious weed from the area before it constitutes a major problem.
The Nguru wetland located in Yobe State and some areas in Hadeja towns of Jigawa State have suffered from this weed locally called ‘ Kachalla’ for years, leading to loss of livelihood for several farmers and fishermen.
The farmers noted that Typha grass which manifested in the early 90s, has strong resistance to pesticides as well as any local method of weed clearance. A rice farmer in Nguru of Yobe State, Alhaji Sa’idu Bachelor told me, “I was born and raised in Nguru but, I must tell you that we’ve never seen a notorious weed like Kachalla,” he says adding that its all over the place and burning cannot get rid of it, as even its ash turns to a seed when it falls.
Another farmer called Suleiman Sale says the effect of Typha grass on rice farmers is multi – dimensional with three effects saying it stops free flow of water, so areas that had more water for farming can no longer have that.
“If as a farmer you spend for example, N10,000 to N20,000 on land clearance or pesticides on areas invaded by Kachalla, you must triple it and at the end you hardly get results. Finally, it houses birds that even if you are able to get yield, they destroy it.”
He says apart from negative effect on rice and wheat farmers, the grass cripples fishing activities forcing several fishermen out of fishing business.
“It stops free flow of water in the river, and fishing areas have now been taken over by the grass. The situation is quite devastating,” Sale added.
However, the farmers believe the grass is eliminable citing example with the effort of former Secretary to the Federation Babachir during whose time through North East Development Commission, a vast area was cleared.
They call on government to help as the weed invades more land on a daily basis.
A farmer Mohammed Badamasi says “I think it’s time for the state and federal government to seek international support on the clearance of the weed if it is beyond their capacity,” adding that something urgent should be done before the situation worsens to the detriment of all.
A director at the Yobe State Ministry of Environment, Mallam Hassan Musa says Typha grass on the Nguru wetland has been an obstruction to farmers and fishing activities. He states the weed invasion goes through the Nguru wetland up to a town called Baturiya of Hadeja in Jigawa State.