12 February 2013

Nigeria: Sokoto Villagers Count Losses As Flood Ravages Farms

Sokoto — Just as farmers in some remote villages of Rabah local government of Sokoto State were preparing to start harvesting some of their farm produce, came some flood waters that pounded on farms, destroying the crops.

"We would have started harvesting the soya beans by now and some other crops in the next two months," some of the affected farmers said as they groan over the hardship occasioned by the loss of their produce.

Over 200 farmers in the area were said to have been affected by last week's flood in Raha, Gigane, and Tsamiya and Dan'Ali villages. They are presently counting the enormous losses they incurred from the destruction of crops worth millions of naira in affected farms numbering over 300.

Among crops destroyed in the incident were potatoes, soya beans, cowpeas, pepper, tomatoes, onions and groundnuts. The farmers lament that their crops could not be saved from the ravaging water that inundated the area as volumes of water submerged their farms.

One of the affecting farmers, Aliyu Ali Na Garba, said he incurred a loss of about N500, 000-N600, 000. "I lost a big farm with about 100 bags of potatoes, 40 bags of soya beans and cowpeas."

Na Garba who is also acting chairman of the farmers association in the area, solicited assistance to cushion the effect of the loss on the farmers.

Another farmer Ibrahim Hakimi said he lost 20 bags (each bag 100kg) of potatoes, 100 bags each of soya beans and cowpea to the incident.

Councilor representing the ward, Mohammed Yusuf, said when the incident happened, the villagers immediately went on emergency embankment with sand bags before the local government took over the exercise. He said the embankment helped in stopping the problem.

Village head of Tsamiya, Mohammed Bello, noted that there was great damage to farms as a result of the flood.

He appealed to the state government to come to the aid of affected farmers towards alleviating their sufferings.

Chairman of the local government, Zayyanu Bello Gandi, said the incident was reported to the council authorities.

He said they constituted a committee to look into it and that they collated the list of affected farmers and farmlands, adding that food items and relief materials have been proposed to be given to the affected farmers.

The chairman appealed to the state and federal governments to come to the aid of the farmers. The flood was said to have occurred following the release of water from the Bakolori Dam, but the Federal Ministry of Water resources in statement attributed the flood to high level of new sedimentation following the 2012 flooding incidence that led to several changes in the water course.

According to the statement , "the ministry takes note that following a request of government of Sokoto State to the Sokoto-Rima River Basin Development Authority for additional release of water to satisfy the urban water needs at the water treatment plant in Sokoto, the basin authority obliged.

"Accordingly additional water releases were systematically made following existing procedures and guidelines which include emphasis on safety of communities downstream and extant regulations on dam safety.

"Arising from the above situation, the ministry wishes to assure all communities downstream that all measures are being taken to fully study all areas where such sedimentation occurred."

It also said that the Sokoto Rima River Basin Development Authority will take additional measures to undertake basic river training and dredging to make all water courses downstream Bakolori Dam amenable to free flow of water.

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