By Vincent A. Yusuf (Abuja), Abubakar Akote (Minna) & Magaji Isa Hunkuyi (Jalingo)
Across the country, many farmers have suffered heavy losses as flood destroyed many farms.
Last week witnessed some of the heaviest rainfalls that brought back memories of the 2012 national flood disaster that claimed lives and property of many agrarian rural communities.
Farmers across Taraba, Benue, Nasarawa and Niger have been severely hit by flood, something NiMet earlier predicted.
The agency usually releases seasonal prediction to guide farmers to make informed decisions, but there is no proper synergy between the agency, federal and states ministries of agriculture to educate farmers at the grassroots.
Every year, farmers in the flood-prone areas suffer heavy losses. Climate change is further exacerbating the situation and making prediction difficult.
In Niger State, over 40,000 hectares of rice and sugarcane farms have been submerged in Edozhigi community, one of the major farming communities in Gbako Local Government Area.
The affected farmers told our correspondent that most of the rice farms were ready for harvesting when the flood occurred, adding that most of the submerged rice got rotten in floodwater.
One of the farmers, Alhaji Mohammad Kudu Tswachi, said he lost 7 hectares of his rice farm to the flood, in addition to his sugarcane farms.
“We expected to celebrate bumper harvest this year because our rice farms had recorded high yield. But the flood destroyed all of them. Some people had even fixed days to start harvesting, only for us to wake up to see the flood.
“Many of us took fertiliser loans and farm inputs from the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN). Our agreement was to pay back after harvesting the rice. Many of us are confused now because any delay in repaying the loans is welcomed with arrest and detention. I can’t even quantify the number of sugarcane farms that have been washed away,” he said.
He said over 40,000 resident and visiting farmers were affected, and appealed to government for intervention, especially in paying back the loans.
Another victim, Usman Mohammed, said the only alternative they had was to wait for dry season to begin irrigation farming, but asked, “With the cost of farm input now, where do we get money to buy them? He added, “This flood will subject many people to hardship because we have spent money on our farms.
“It was three days for one of my friends to start harvesting his two hectares of rice farm but everything was washed away. With the current price of rice in the market, the farms that were lost are worth over N50million, not to mention the sugarcane farms. For sugarcane farms, majority of us had just applied fertilisers after the last weeding.
“It is a very devastating moment for us because we cannot actually quantify the losses we have incurred.”
Daily Trust on Sunday also gathered that many rice farming communities in Katcha Local Government Area were deeply hit by the flood.
A resident, Adamu Aliyu, listed the affected communities to include Katcha, Nda-lada, Echegi, Gbapo and Kolo-Gbako.
“We hoped to experience bumper harvest this year, especially in rice, but the rate of floods has dashed that hope. We just pray for the best in the future,” he said.
Our correspondent in Taraba reports that hundreds of rice and maize farms were submerged following a heavy downpour that resulted in the overflow of River Benue.
The affected farms are located along the banks of River Benue in Ardo-Kola, Karim-Lamido, Gassol and Ibbi local government areas.
A farmer in Ibbi, Abubakar Isa, told Daily Trust on Sunday that he planted two bags of 100kg rice seed, hoping to harvest over 200 bags, but the entire farm was washed away by the flood.
He said that in other years they used to harvest over 1,000 bags of rice and maize, but this year, they may hardly harvest 100 bags because of the destruction done by the flood.
At Zip, Dampar, Isini and Gungun Abdullahi, apart from the farms destroyed, many houses, foodstuffs and animals were also destroyed by the flood.