Quelea birds have invaded farmlands in 17 communities in Auyo Local Government Council of Jigawa State.
A News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) investigation reveals that the communities are: Ayama, Furawa, Auyo, Mado, Adaha Gamsarku, Tsidir, Hadiyo, Gatafa, Marina, Anauya, Tagir, Zumoni, Muran, Fige, kateje and Hakudau.
The red-billed quelea, also known as the red-billed weaver or red-billed dioch, is a small migratory, sparrow-like bird of the weaver family. It is native to sub-Saharan Africa.
Malam Tukur Dauda, a farmer at Auyo, told NAN that his rice farm was destroyed by the birds on Monday night.
“Our farms were attacked by these birds. Within two hours, they ate everything in the farm which is about one hectare,” he said.
Also speaking, another farmer in Furawa, Malam Yahaya Suleiman, said: “These birds have established a permanent base in this area and unfortunately, government’s response to these attacks usually comes late.”
Bello Mohammed, who grows wheat in Ayama, however, said the net he used in covering his farm was what saved it from the disaster.
He said: “The length of the net we use to distract the birds is 100 m and its width is between 20 and 30m. If you go around, you will find the net covering between two to three kilometers of farmlands.
“But the problem is that we still don’t feel safe when we see the birds flying in the sky.”
When contacted, a source at the Hadejia Zonal Office of the Jigawa Agricultural Development Agency (JADA) said the agency had received a report from the communities on the quelea birds’ invasion.
“We are aware of the current invasion in about 17 communities in Auyo.
“Preparations for the fumigation in these communities have been concluded. We are only waiting for the pilots to inform us about their arrival,” he said.
NAN reports that, on Jan. 24, Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, announced that locusts and quella birds from neighbouring Niger Republic have invaded farms in parts of Borno and Adamawa states.
He revealed, however, that efforts of his ministry to curb the destruction by aerial spraying of insecticides on affected farms and areas had been hampered by warnings from the Nigerian military about security concerns.
According to the World Food Programme, subsistence farmers in sub-Saharan Africa have been at the mercy of the voracious Red-billed Quelea bird and tiny “feathered locust” still decimate fields across the continent.
By Nabilu Balarabe