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Farmers begin premature harvest as flood ravages Rivers

Agrarian communities of Engenni, Ahoada, Joinkrama,  Ndoni, Omoku, Egi, Etche, Obite, Egbeda, Oyigbo, Okarki,  Mbiama, Ukwuizi and a host of others are counting their losses as a result of perennial  flooding in the areas.

Some of the affected communities are said to have started early harvest of farm crops as a result of rampaging flooding.

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The affected communities have been at the receiving end of perennial flooding. Between 2012 and 2019 the communities lost farm crops and properties valued at millions of naira.

In the recent case, Joinkrama and Engenni communities both in Ahoada West Local Government of the state have been worst hit. The farmers are said to have started premature harvest of their farm produce.

A resident of Joinkrama, Mike Alasi, said farmers in the flood prone areas of the community have started premature harvest of their farm produce for fear of losing everything to the flood as it happened to them last year.

He said premature harvest of farm produce has become a norm in the area due to flooding.

“What is happening now is that there is panic in the communities, especially among those on the shores of the Orashi River and some people are engaging in premature harvesting of cassava and other crops.

“Between 2012 and 2019 our farmers have been at the receiving end of flooding as huge amount of agricultural produce have been washed away. So at the peak of every rainy season farmers hurriedly harvest their crops to cut losses,’’ Alasi said.

He said the situation was not only in Joinkrama but in the entire Ekpeye communities of Ahaoda that reside within the shores of Orashi River.

He said only government has the solution to the challenges posed by the flooding, adding that constant dredging of Orashi river is necessary to ensure smooth flow of water to the sea, while the adjoining creeks should also be dredged.

He called on both state and federal governments to urgently dredge Joinkrama, Mbiama and Orkaki rivers to ensure that they easily flow into the seas.

At Engenni the story is the same. Farmers in the community have started harvesting their farm crops. The riverine community was recently ravaged by flood. A farmer from the community, Frank Jacob, said he lost large amount of agricultural produce to last year flooding.

“Anytime the rainy season sets in, farmers in our community begin to panic. Last year we harvested little because almost all what we produced were washed away by flood.

“We are predominantly farmers and farming has been our only source of livelihood. We have suffered lots damages from flooding and that is the reason why most of us have embarked on harvesting our crops prematurely,’’ he said.

He called on the state government and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to come to the aid of farmers in the community.

Another resident who simply identified himself as Samuel said there was “a panic crops harvest” in the area by farmers to avert losing their crops to flood. He said many of the farmers lost produce last year to flooding.

Apart from crop farmers, poultry and fish farmers are also affected by the perennial flooding in the state. Last week, a poultry farm located at the popular Aba/Port Harcourt road in Oyigbo was washed away by flood.

The owner of the poultry farm is said to have relocated but residents said she lost about 500 birds to the disaster.

Another fish pond located within the same stretch of Aba/Port Harcourt road was also affected by the rampaging flood. Sources close to the farm said about 1000 fishes were lost there.

NEMA in the South South zone recently warned residents living in the coastal and flood prone areas to move to safer areas to avert the danger of being washed off by flood but most of the residents did not respond to the warning on the ground that they have no other place to move to.

Rivers State government, through the Ministry of Environment, had also advised those residing in flood prone areas to move out to safer ground.

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