The rice farm in Edo, 70 percent of which was affected by the flood, was partly financed through the FADAMA III additional financing project…
Tony Osauzo, Benin
Across the country, so many Nigerians have heeded the call of the Federal Government to be part its agricultural revolution and contribute their quota to efforts to boost the country’s food security.
Besides, government sees agriculture as one of the greatest source to absorb millions of the unemployed and one sure way to cut down the country’s high bill on importation of food items that could be produced locally and generate income for farmers as well as produce raw materials for industries, which will in turn create employment.
Nevertheless, many Nigerians who have keyed into the agricultural programme are finding it difficult to get financial support, inputs on time and cope with the vagaries of weather.
This is the predicament of many farmers, including 10 cooperative farmers, who last week lost 280 hectares of rice farm to flood at the bank of the Ovia River in Ovia South West Local Government Area.
The rice farm in Edo, 70 percent of which was affected by the flood, was partly financed through the FADAMA III additional financing project and 280 farmers under various clusters were affected.
It was a pity, seeing farmers struggling to harvest rice with canoes in a bid to salvage what they could from the areas not yet flooded in the farm they laboured so hard to cultivate and were expecting to reap bumper harvest.
President of the Iguomon I Cluster, Mrs. Bola Amen Ijeoma, said they have commenced harvesting on Saturday when the flood came in on Sunday morning.
Bola said they were expecting to get five tons per hectare in the farm following the use of Faro 44.
“We started rice farming at this Iguomon axis last year but we couldn’t make any harvest because of flood. I just started harvesting before the flood came. I was expecting five tons in my hectare.
“This is big loss. We have 280 hectares of rice farm. We don’t have money which was why we didn’t insure the farm. We were introduced to FADAMA III to help us out of the loss of last year.”
Leader of Iguomon II Cluster, Mr. Edward Akpoboye, 55, said the flood has destroyed all their hope of making recovery from the loss they experienced last year.
“I don’t know how to tell my wife what happened. This is the only work we know how to do.
“We want the government to help us out of this disaster. Last year, flood took over the farms. We thought we would harvest before the flood came. The water is too much. Some persons are harvesting the rice they can see. Last year, we planted paddy rice but this year, we planted Faro 44.
State Project Coordinator for the FADAMA III project, Dr. Edward Izevbigie, said manual harvesting was being used because the land is not fully mechanised.
“If the state government had not paid its counterpart funding, the farmers would not have been enjoying the facilities. The state government made sure that the source of input is from a genuine source. Sygenta did the supply of all the seedlings and agro-chemicals that we used.
“The seed we used has the capacity to produce five tons per hectare. The farmers have started harvesting before the flood problem came on. We can see that 70 percent of the rice field was affected by the flood.”
Special Adviser on Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security Programme to Governor Godwin Obaseki, Prince Joe Okojie, expressed displeasure at the destruction of the rice farm.
He said he was happy when he saw pictures of the farm before the flood and was expecting to see a good harvest.
“I came to see the farm myself because from the pictures I saw the farm was looking good. I was informed just yesterday that flood has taken over the farm.
“Next year, we have to start early. We need to start early next year to avoid this kind of situation. I will discuss with the governor to know the next step. I put a lot of effort to put the components in place to make sure this farm kicks off. We carry out research to select the seedlings. The farm was doing well. We were expecting the farmers to smile this year. All my efforts have gone down the drain.”
Technical Field Scientist for Sygenta Agro-chemicals, Mr. Akeem Abimbola, said relevant government agencies should make effort to release funding early for rice farmers.
“In other countries, when you get your weather forecast, opportunities would have been created to stall flooding. Farmers could have been assisted to get the funding for the project early.
“As NIMET released weather forecast, they could have planned in such a way to avoid the period of flooding. If relevant government agencies had released funding early for the farmers, the input would have been provided early in such a way that they would avoid the period of this flooding. These are institutional problem,” he sad.