Some farmers in the North-East have called for urgent intervention to avert hunger as flood ravages over 150,000 hectares (ha) of farmlands.
The farmers, who expressed concern over large scale destruction of produce, said the damage caused by the disaster could be estimated at over N30 billion.
They said urgent interventions are necessary to mitigate the effects of the disaster, reduce hunger and encourage development of adapting climate change technologies to enhance food security.
The farmers made the call while responding to a survey on the effects of flood in Bauchi, Damaturu, Dutse, Gombe, Maiduguri and Yola states.
According to official data, the flood killed over 100 persons, destroyed 100,000 ha of farmlands, displaced thousands of people and cut off several roads across Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe and Jigawa states.
In Jigawa, the disaster ravaged 138,442.36 ha of farmlands, displaced 1,554 farming communities and killed over 90 persons across 22 local government areas of the state.
The state Commissioner for Agriculture, Alhaji Awwalu Danladi, said the government had constituted an assessment committee which examined the extent of damage caused by the disaster.
He said the flood destroyed farm produce such as rice, sorghum, millet, groundnut, sugarcane, sesame, cowpea, and beans, among others.
He listed the affected areas to include Dutse, Birnin Kudu, Kiyawa, Buji, Miga, Jahun, Gwaram, Ringim, Garki and Taura.
Others are Hadejia, Kirikasamma, Guri, Kafinhausa, Auyo, Malammadori, Kaugama, Kazaure, Babura, Roni, Gwiwa and Yankwashi.
He said the committee recommended for construction of reservoirs/dams and embankments, desilting of water ways, erection of diversion spillway channels and afforestation programme to control perennial flooding in the state.
The committee, he said, also called for provision of fertilisers, improved seeds and chemicals to the affected farmers to enable them to engage in dry season activities.
Statistics of the Jigawa State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) indicated that the agency, in collaboration with the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), distributed food and non-food items to the victims of the disaster across the state.
One of the affected farmers, Ado Musa, said such support was imperative to enable them to replant and cultivate their farmlands to minimise losses and enhance food security.
“Government should support farmers to engage in massive dry season activity to produce more crops and replace the ones lost to the flood.
“Farmers should be empowered with all the needed inputs to produce massively during the dry season,” he said.
In Bauchi State, no fewer than 13 persons lost their lives and thousands of hectares of farmlands destroyed to the flood across 11 local government areas.
Dr Ibrahim Kabir, Director-General, Bauchi State Environmental Protection Agency (BASEPA), said flood killed three persons, destroyed 1,453 houses and thousands of hectares of farmlands in Zaki and Gamawa LGAs.
He said the flood also cut off access roads in six different locations, a situation which made movement of farm produce difficult.
“As palliative measure; the affected communities need about 14 canoes as means of transportation to continue their normal activities,” he said.
Corroborating Kabir, the Director of Planning, Research and Statistics, Bauchi State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Mr Adams Nayola, said that 10 other persons lost their lives in the disaster in eight LGAs of the state.
He said the flood also submerged thousands of hectares of farmland and destroyed hundreds of houses in Jama’are, Giade, Misau, Dambam, Darazo, Kirfi, Itas-Gadau, Shira and Toro.
In the same vein, Yobe State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) said the disaster ravaged 3,950 farmlands in nine LGAs across the state.
The Acting Director-General of the Agency, Dr Ibrahim Jalo, said the figure could rise as the damage assessment exercise was still ongoing in the affected communities.
He listed Gujba, Gulani, Jakusko, Potiskum, Fika, Gashua, Geidam, Damaturu and Fune as some of the affected areas.
“Flood destroyed rice, maize, sorghum, millet, beans, groundnut, beans farms and hundreds of livestock.
“Flood swept across the state in spite of the early warning by the Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NIMET) and Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA), which predicted that Yobe, among other states in the country would experience flood,” he said.
To mitigate the negative effects, Jalo said the agency had constituted flood disaster response teams to enhance support to the victims of the disaster.
According to him, individual donors distributed N45,000 each to 1,300 households in Gujba and Gulani LGAs while 1,190 households have been provided with food items in Damaturu and Gujba.
The agency, he said, was sensitising people in flood prone communities to desist from indiscriminate dumping of waste on water ways and relocate to higher grounds to avert the disaster.
“We mobilse environmental and sanitation workers to educate the people at grassroots on the need to keep a clean environment to guard outbreak of diseases.
“The agency also advised motorists to be careful and avoid flooded roads and be safety conscious while commuting in the affected areas,” he said.
Moreso, Alhaji Jafaru Illehla, Programme Manager, Bauchi State Agricultural Development Programme (BSADP), has advised farmers to desist from cultivating lands on riverbanks to avoid crop loss to the flood.
He noted that flood prevents root crop production and lead to premature harvest.
“Crop loss through rain damage, waterlogged soil, delays in harvesting and transportation difficulties due to flooded roads and damaged infrastructure.
“The effect of flood is serious reduction in agricultural production, grain supply and hike in prices,” he said.
He advised farmers to cultivate crops in upland areas and utiliise moisture areas for dry season activities.
Also, Dr Joseph Husseini, Director, Technical Services, Gombe State Agricultural Development Programme (ADP), said flood caused devastating effect on crops which need less water.
According to him, crops like maize, cowpea and groundnut hardly survive under flood, adding, “Where those farms received more than enough rainfall, it will lead to low yield.”
Hussaini stressed the need for comprehensive farmer support services to enhance farming skills and access to inputs.
“Dry season farming is the way forward to produce enough food to make up for the losses caused by flood.
“It is also good for the Federal Government to mop up excess grain for strategic reserve to avert food shortage,” he said.
The agronomist, however, expressed the hope that farmers would record bumper harvest despite the flood recorded in parts of the country.
Farmers, he said, would record bumper harvest in view of the high-volume rainfall.
“Rice survives and withstand no matter the amount of rain, it will yield well,’’ he said.
Dr Mohammed Musa, Director, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) in Gombe State, explained that flood affects various stages of agricultural production.
He listed some of the effects to include destruction of crops, outbreak of animal and human diseases.
He identified farmer support as one of the effective measures to mitigate the effect of the disaster.
To buttress earlier opinion, some farmers in Borno urged government at all levels to pririotised irrigation activities to enable them to recoup the loses caused by flood.
Rice plantations along River Ngadda and Yedzaram wilted to flooding.
The farmers described irrigation farming as “lucrative” in view of the large swath of arable lands that transverse by river tributaries drawing from Lake Chad.
Kurami Bulama, a rice grower, said many farmers lost their investments to the disaster this cropping season.
“Many farmers recorded losses, especially those in riverine areas but the submerged lands are fertile and good for irrigation.
“We need support and security to encourage irrigation activities, especially along the shores of Lake Chad.
“The land is fertile, it needs little fertiliser application to give higher yields at harvest,” he said.
Similarly, Al’Amin Mustafa and Babagana Ali, also rice growers at Zabarmari and Koshebe plantations, said such support would ginger them to produce more.
For his part, Gov. Babagana Zulum reiterated commitment to encourage agricultural production through irrigation and farmer support services.
“With 72,600 square kilometres of land area, the state is endowed with great potential for agriculture including poultry, fisheries and livestock production.
“Significant investment has been made in agricultural equipment and machinery to harness this potential but has been dormant due to insurgency which has restricted access to farmland, particularly in the northern part of the state close to the Lake Chad.”