Nigeria: Flood of Tears, As Homes, Farmlands Get Washed Away

5 September 2020

Floods have again hit several parts of the country, severely affecting farmlands and displacing thousands of people, especially in Kebbi State where our correspondent reports that it ravaged over 500,000 hectares of farm produce estimated at over N5billion, while also rendering people homeless in other states, heightening threats to food security.

Besides other factors threatening food security in Nigeria, including the seemingly intractable terrorism, banditry and killer herdsmen's onslaught which are steadily spreading across the country, harvest of farm produce might be imperiled this year and even the next as a result of flooding.

In Kebbi State for instance, 500,000 hectares was recently devastated by flood, 450,000 hectares of it being for rice farms.

This has heightened fears that by next year, majority of farmers in the state, particularly rice farmers, would be out of business.

Many farmlands visited by our correspondent were overrun by floods, just as rice farms were submerged.

A farmer, Libabatu Usman Kamba, expressed fears over imminent food scarcity, particularly as most of the farmers would not be able to mobilize for the next farming season due to the zero harvest this year.

Kamba said she cultivated over 20 hectares of rice this year at Cida Kai village in Dandi Local Government Area but lost over 16 hectares of the rice farm to flood.

She said her crop was ready for harvest and was hoping to get 40 bags of rice per hectare and 700 bags of paddy rice.

Though she could not say what she spent on the hectares submerged in the flood, she added that most farmers would not be able to go for dry season farming this year, hence the need for urgent government intervention.

"The losses recorded this year are so enormous that majority of small holder farmers would not go back for this year's dry season farming.

"The usual practice by most farmers is to re-invest what they realized from rainy season farming for dry season farming," she said.

Zuwaira Abubakar, another rice farmer in Argungu, said barely all rice farms in the area were submerged and that would affect farmers' capital for dry season farming. Zuwaira, who cultivated over 25 hectares of rice, said she lost all to flood, adding that she had spent over N300,000 in the farm before the flood came.

"We are calling on government to come to our aid. Many of us will be out of business if no intervention comes our way.

"Farmers don't keep money, the more we make in the business the more we open more farmlands, that is the secret of the farming business otherwise you won't last long in it," she said.

In Danko Wasagu Local Government Area, a farmer, Usman Umar, told Daily Trust that they did not experience massive destruction as was the case in most parts of the state, noting that only about a hectare of seven hectares of his rice farm was washed away by the flood.

Another farmer, Suleiman Bashir, who stood helplessly by his rice farm which was submerged along Dukku/Makera road in Birnin Kebbi Local Government Area, appealed to the state and federal governments to come to their aid.

"I don't know what to do, I have two large rice farms and they have been completely submerged.

"We are appealing to the state and federal governments to assist us," he said.

The chairman of the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Sani Dododo, said farm produce worth over N5 billion was destroyed by flood.

He added that the loss recorded in rice farming could be put at 90 percent of the total value of farm produce in the state.

"Over 500,000 hectares of farmlands have been destroyed by flood, the destruction translates to over N5billion worth of farm produce.

"Rice farms constitute to about 90 percent of the farm produce destroyed," he said.

The National President of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Aminu Goronyo, who toured some of the affected places while in the entourage of the Kebbi State governor, described the incident as devastating.

Goronyo assured the farmers of federal government intervention because the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had sent its officials to the state to assess the situation for immediate intervention.

"The CBN governor has directed RIFAN to mobilise one million farmers that can produce five million metric tonnes of rice during the dry season commencing in November for support," he said.

Also speaking with newsmen at Bakin Gada in Argungu Local Government Area after inspecting rice farms destroyed in some local government areas, Governor Abubakar Bagudu expressed shock over the incident, describing it as regrettable.

Thousands rendered homeless in Bauchi

Thousands of displaced people including women and children and the aged have moved into public schools, primary healthcare centres and shops while hundreds of others have relocated to neighboring Jama'are, Azare and Giade local government areas of Bauchi State for shelter.

When our correspondent visited some of the affected areas on Wednesday, dozens of families had taken refuge at various public schools including the Adamami Primary School which was still occupied by the flood.

A victim and father of 11 children, Hamisu Magaji, said three families were sharing two classes.

"One class is accommodating 42 children sleeping on school desks while the male heads of families are sleeping on tables because water has taken over the environment.

"We are staying here due to the flood which destroyed our houses, properties, food and farmlands but we leave everything to God.

"We are yet to receive support or assistance from anybody four days after the incident, life has been difficult, especially taking care of the families but we are struggling to feed them, that notwithstanding, we are appealing to the government and organizations to come to our aid," he said.

His daughter, 18-year-old Halima Hamisu, who cooked food for children in the camp, told Daily Trust how they managed to sleep on school desks.

"We arrange the desks laying mats on top and putting long sticks on four angles to hang mosquito nets.

"We line up between 8 and 12 children inside the net and that is how we have managed in this class for the past four days as our mothers have relocated to a nearby village because they are nursing babies," she said.

A woman with four children at the Government Day Secondary School camp in Adamami, Barakana Mohammed, said her six months old daughter had been infected with cold.

"I have been sleeping on the floor with my children for four days due to the flood that destroyed our house and property and the bad condition coupled with the weather affecting the children.

"Life has become difficult living in a classroom but we pray for God's intervention.

"We are calling on government to come to our aid."

A 60-year-old woman, Aishatu Abdullahi, now taking refuge at the camp, decried the absence of essential commodities and the sanitary situation in the camp, saying, "We don't have food in the camp because water has destroyed everything and the little our caregivers are struggling to bring to the camp is not enough as we have small children.

"I am appealing to the government and privileged individuals in the name of God to support us with food and other relief materials so as to rescue us from additional hardship."

The village head of Adamami, Malam Isa Nalaraba, said the flood had caused a lot of destruction but, "We thank God for saving our lives and our children because almost more than half of Adamami is destroyed by the flood which displaced many people to neighboring communities while others have become refugees in their locality while many other residents have relocated to neighboring towns and villages.

"We are appealing to the government and individuals to assist the victims with relief materials to support them and continue their lives."

Habiba Sani who was to wed in three months and three others including a 14-year-old girl and a 60-year-old woman drowned in flood waters in Bakatma, Shira Local Government Area of the state.

Habiba's father, Malam Sani Biidis, told Daily Trust that he was away when his neighbor invited her and his daughter to accompany him to remove weeds in a rice farm beside a river that was flooded following heavy downpour.

He described the deceased as a kind hearted and obedient girl who hardly argued or disagreed with people within and outside the family.

"They met their sad end when they tried to cross the river at a point where everybody including children used to pass from the village because the area is not deep or wide but as a result of the flood the volume and speed of the water had increased, unfortunately the moment they entered the river the flow dragged them down and they could not swim out of the water.

"It was some children who witnessed the incident that rushed to inform the family that they tried to cross the river but drowned in the process.

"When they launched the search operation their corpses were found in a nearby area some meters from the point of passage.

"I was away from home when I received a phone call that my daughter and one other girl had drowned.

"Habiba's death is painful but I leave everything to God and pray for their souls," Bidis said.

Badamasi Shittu, the father of the 14-year-old Ziyada Badamasi, said he asked them to go to his rice farm to assist him remove weeds and apply fertilizer.

"My daughter, Ziyada, told me that they would go before I arrived to apply the fertilizer.

"When they reached the point where people cross the river, they met some children but decided to cross and when they reached the center of the river, Ziyada shouted for help as the flow pulled them down and there was no mature person around to rescue them.

"It was one of the children who rushed home and notified us that Habiba and Ziyada had drowned," he said.

The Acting Permanent Secretary in the State Emergency Management Agency, Habu Ningi, said the flood affected 11 villages including Adamami, Bakatma, Alkaleri, Sawi, Dirmi, dago, Shira, Yana , Bege, Bukul, Fago , Tsafi and Disina all, in Shira LGA.

Bakatma village, Adamami, Alkaleri, and Disina town and other villages in Shira Local Government Area were flooded following heavy downpour between Sunday and Monday morning, destroying over 2,600 houses and many hectares of farmlands.

A resident of Adamami, Adamu Oni Adamami, said the heavy rain started on Sunday and around 11 pm people in the town were confused because water had taken over everywhere, gushing into houses at a high speed.

"The rain continued unabated and people started running for safety, especially women and children, to higher areas.

"The rain did not stop until 6am on Monday thousands of houses collapsed and many hectares of farmlands were destroyed."

Oni added; "Another devastation the flood caused is destruction of food.

"Apart from losing houses majority of the victims have no food and the farmlands have been destroyed, leaving us in a big calamity now and in future because the time to cultivate new crops has passed.

"We are calling on the government, individuals and corporate organizations to come to our aid before the situation goes out of hand."

Niger farmers count losses

Many farmlands have been wiped out in Niger State where there is wide lamentation among farmers who are appealing to the government to come to their aid.

Our correspondent gathered that entire farmlands were washed away by floods, leaving farmers with nothing to harvest.

An affected farmer, Tukura Saidu from Kuyi village, said over 40 farmers were affected in his village as yams, maize and rice planted were all wiped out, adding that it was the first time of experiencing such a huge loss to flood.

Also, fish worth over N100 million were washed away by flood at Lapai Gwari in Bosso Local Government Area of the state, it was gathered.

A fish farm according to Daily Trust findings, the major place where fish sellers get fresh fish, was greatly affected, causing a rise in the price of fish in the area as residents now have to travel elsewhere to get fish.

A fish farmer, Malam Mohammad Tukur, lamented that the devastation caused by ravaging floods in Lapai Gwari was the first of its kind and appealed to the state government to urgently assist them.

He said about 2000 fish farms had been washed away.

Another farmer, Malam Abdullahi Saidu, said customers from across Nigeria were trooping to the farm before the incident but many farmers had lost millions of naira worth of investments to floods.

The Vice Chairman of Bosso Local Government Area, Malam Saidu Zegi, said in April this year, rainstorms affected over 200 people, just as many farmers lost their farmlands.

The Director General, Niger State Emergency Management Agency (NSEMA), Alhaji Ahmed Ibrahim Inga, described the incident as not only pathetic and tragic but also devastating.

Inga said they had sent a team of experts from the agency to investigate the extent of damage caused.

This according to him is to enable the state government come up with modalities of assisting victims.

He said though the state government was battling with insufficient funds occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic, it would not fold its arms to allow the people suffer without any aid.

Floods hit Enugu farms

Enugu State is not left out of the massive flooding and destruction of crops. Mr. Austin Obiora has a rice farm of about 235 hectares at Ihuokpara community in Nkanu-East Local Government Area.

Speaking with Daily Trust, he recalled how a heavy rainfall on August 26 caused a massive flood which affected his farm. About 16 hectares of the rice field was adversely affected.

According to him, the rice had started flowering when the flood came.

"I had to start afresh because the rice planting season was almost over.

"I started doing another "broadcasting" (spreading) of rice seeds in a systematic and orderly way to enable them germinate very well," he said.

"It costs about N250,000 to cultivate one hectare of rice field and when multiplied by 16 hectares, it will be over N4m because I have to add the cost of labour," Obiora said, adding: "Therefore, I lost over N4m due to the massive and devastating flood."

He, however, didn't feel discouraged by the huge loss because he said upon realizing that some large hectares were still there for him, the unaffected hectares represent compensation for his loss.

"We pray that it doesn't happen again in the next planting season, nobody wants to incur losses," he said.

Asked whether any government agency came to his aide, he said he considered it would be a waste of time and energy to approach any government body, just as he did not insure his farm in the first place.

However, Obiora said he had learnt his lesson as he has started making arrangements for insuring his farms in future.

Another farmer, an elderly Rev Dr Lambert Echetu who is into maize and cassava farming, told our correspondent that the combined misfortune of flooding and activities of herdsmen had caused a lot of havoc to his maize farm of two hectares at Amagunze in Nkanu-East Local Government Area.

He said: "The cattle and flood messed up my maize farm.

"I planted maize covering two hectares.

"I spent about N240,000 on clearing the bush, seeds and fertilizer.

"We went to the Government House, Enugu to complain about the Fulani herdsmen and their cows destroying our farms.

"The first tragedy was done to the farm by the cows.

"The second tragedy was caused by the huge flooding, even though the place is swampy.

"When I got to the Government House, they would refer me from one office to the other and it was like a wild goose chase and I left," he said.

Echetu further said: "As a servant of God, when I tried to get help from people and I didn't succeed, I handed everything over to God.

"I love farming because I have passion for it.

"I prayed over the farm project before I decided to farm.

"I have a lot of people who need my help in the village.

"My intention is after harvesting the maize, and bringing it to the church, I will distribute the maize to the congregation."

He said despite the setback, he won't give up farming and had acquired over 100 hectares of land at Ihu-Okpara community, specifically for planting cassava in the next planting season.

Kano, Jigawa farmers cry out

Last month, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) revealed that 20 of the 44 local government areas in Kano State were at high risk of flooding during this year's rainy season.

Tarauni, Garum Malam, Rimin Gado, Gaya, Gezawa, Gwale, Shanono, Gabasawa, Gwarzo, Ungoggo, Warawa, Dawakin Kudu, Dambatta, Bebeji, Kabo, Wudil, Kura, Nassarawa, Kano Municipal and Kumbotso were the local government areas identified in the report.

With the recent wave of rainfall in the state, some of the identified local governments have already begun to experience heavy flooding which resulted in the destruction of several hectares of farmlands by flood, causing loss of millions of naira worth of farm products.

According to the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) in Kano, so far, hundreds of rice farmers in five local governments have reported to have been affected by the flood.

The state chapter chairman of RIFAN, Alhaji Haruna Abubakar Aliyu, said farmers in Dambatta, Makoda, Ajingi, Gaya and Rinim Gado have been seriously affected by the flooding.

"Based on the directives received from the RIFAN head office after we had sent our report on the damages caused to our various members, the head office asked us to compile a detailed report on the flood which currently we are working on.

"We have so far identified five local governments, though we are aware there are more than that but we are still working on it," he said.

The state chapter chairman of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Alhaji Zubairu Ibrahim, said the association was still assessing the areas affected and number of farmers and farm lands affected.

He added that the outcome of the ongoing assessment would be made public and the association was working on measures to be adopted in assisting the affected farmers.

Attempts to contact the state commissioner for agriculture and who is also the deputy governor proved abortive but sources close to the ministry said a committee had been inaugurated by the state government to look into the issue and present its report for further action.

In Jigawa State, following a two-day heavy downpour in Birninkudu Local Government Area, several houses and farmlands were said to have been destroyed.

Alhaji Wada Faka, the chairman of the local government, said a yet-to-be ascertained number of houses and farmlands were destroyed in Malamawar Gangaran, Babaldu, Wurno, Kiyako and Samamiya villages.

NEMA had also stated that the Nigerian Hydrological Agency (NIHSA) 2020 Annual Flood Outlook already listed 12 local government areas in the state as flood-prone areas.

The NIHSA report listed Kaugama, Taura, Guri, Gwaram, Dutse, Auyo, Miga, Malam Madori, Ringim, Birniwa, Jahun and Kafin Hausa as probable flood risk areas.

Nasarawa farmers groan under flood

Many farms and farming communities were recently submerged in flood waters in Nasarawa, a state with many small, medium and large scale farms.

A farmer in Doma Local Government Area, Abu Doma, said his farm and many others were washed away in a few days.

Same goes with people residing on the bank of the River Benue along the state's boundary with Benue State.

This is the second year in a row that River Kilema in Lafia has flooded and submerged farms, houses and cemeteries among others.

An official of the State Emergency Management Agency (NASEMA) who prefers anonymity said it was taking measures to mitigate a possible humanitarian crisis in the state.

The agency has been urging those living in flood-prone areas to leave such places.

He said last month, heavy floods occurred in three local government areas including Awe, Nasarawa and Toto.

The Director of flood, Erosion Control and Land Reclamation, Mr. Jonathan Kwaghkaha Ortoho, said plans were on to tackle erosion at Umasha, Toto, Loko, Nasarawa, Rukubi, Doma and Tunga areas of the state.

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