Unless drastic steps are taken to cushion effects of this year’s massive flooding of farmlands, there is fear of food shortage across the country.
Currently, farmers who are devastated by the havoc are already counting their losses, as most crops for this planting season have been destroyed.
According to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), over 122,653 hectares (ha) of agricultural land have been damaged.
In most of the areas, the farmers lost everything because their crops were either washed away or submerged. This forced some of them to resort to harvesting their crops prematurely to avoid total loss.
In Kogi State, Ibaji, adjudged the most productive council, in terms of agricultural produce-yams, rice and other crops is the most affected.
Ibaji is said to have the capacity to feed the state, as well as neighboring states and even for international market.
In Edo State, hectares of farmlands were destroyed in Udaba, Ofukpo, Agbaburu, Osomegbe, Ukpeko, Ugochi, Anegbette and other communities.
In Kwara State, several farmlands were reportedly washed away by floods in Shonga, Edu and Patigi local government areas.
In Adamawa State, over 5,000 farmers were affected, while in Kebbi State, over 2,100 rice farmlands were estimated to have been lost to the floods in Shanga and Yauri council areas. A total of 1,300 rice farmlands were submerged in Shanga, about 800 rice farms were affected in Yauri.
It is the same scenario in Jigawa, Anambra, Delta, Kano, Bayelsa States, among others.
Already, there is anxiety among stakeholders in the rice value-chain and other staple foods that the intense floods across the country may cause scarcity of paddy rice, on one hand and food commodities, on the other hand, if urgent steps are not taken by relevant authorities.
A resident of Affa, in Ibaji council area, Ben Umoche said most of the people lost all they cultivated to the flood.
“It would be extremely difficult for the farmers to cope in the weeks and months ahead because these are their only hope. They are living at the mercy of people and God at the moment.”
Umoche said overall assessment of the village shows that losses run into hundreds of millions.
A farmer, Paul Obonyo, who cultivated four ha of rice, said he lost everything.
A female farmer, Antonia Chibogwu, who narrated her ordeal, said her two ha of cassava and beans farms went down the drain.
Another farmer, Peter Onuh who cultivated four ha of rice and cassava said his own situation is hopeless, because he has nothing to fall back on after the flood washed away everything.
The Kebbi State chairman of Rice Farmers Association (RIFAN), Alhaji Sahabi Augie, described the disaster as a setback to rice production in the state.
The Managing Director/CEO of Bama Farms, Prince Wale Oyekoya told The Guardian that the flooding has heightened fears of food crisis.
“It will lead to food shortage with low production yield, which ultimately leads to high price in staple foods. The flooding has come as a shock as most farmers were not prepared for such magnitude of waters. It affects all parts of farming of both crops and animal production, especially the vegetable aspect of farming. Nigeria should be ready to pay dearly for the consequences of not fully preparing for climate change.
“The flooding will have a long time effect on the eradication of poverty by 2030 according to the U.N. A lot of farmers will be out of business, which will create food scarcity in the country,” he said.
Oyekoya said the only remedy to avert food crisis “is to intensify on our dry season irrigation system.
The worst part of it is that most of the farmers were not insured to cushion the effects of losses. The flooding compounded losses farmers have suffered in the hands of herdsmen and Boko Haram.”
The Guardian learnt that the Federal Government has promised to support all flood victims, as well as give compensation to those who lost farmlands and properties.