For many farmers, the 2018 cropping season is reminiscence of the 2012 experience when massive flood destroyed thousands of hectares of farmlands.
At present, flood disasters across the country are sending worrying signals that gains so far made in the rice production will be reversed as major producing belts are worst hit.
Already, there is fear among stakeholders in the rice value-chain that the intense floods across the country may cause scarcity of paddy rice if urgent actions are not taken by the relevant authorities.
Reports from major producing precincts across the country show that many rice farmers are devastated over the destruction of their investments by flood.
Our reporters, who have been monitoring the situation in some of the rice producing states, report that wet season farmers who planted their rice along the river banks were most affected.
In Kebbi State, over 2,100 rice farmlands were estimated to have been lost to the floods in Shanga and Yauri local government areas. A total of 1,300 rice farmlands were submerged in Shanga, while about 800 were affected in Yauri.
The state chairman of Rice Farmers Association, Alhaji Sahabi Augie, described the incident as a disaster and setback to rice production activities in the state.
He said farmers lost everything because their crops were either washed away or submerged, adding that the farmers will need to intensify production and get more farms to cultivate during the dry season to make up for their losses.
In Edo State, report says a 280 hectares of rice farm at the bank of Ovia River in Ovia South West Local Government were destroyed by flood.
The rice farm was said to have been partly financed by the FADAMA III additional financing project; and almost 300 farmers under various clusters were affected.
The farmers said 70 per cent of the rice field was affected by the flood.
President of Iguomon I Cluster, Mrs. Bola Amen Ijeoma, said they have begun harvest when the flood came.
Ijeoma said they were expecting to get five tons per hectare following the use of Faro 44 improved seed.
It was also reported that several communities including Udaba, Ofukpo, Agbaburu, Osomegbe, Ukpeko, Ugochi and Anegbette were affected by the flood with several farmlands destroyed.
Another farmer, Mr Nigeria Afomede, said some of the residents had resorted to harvesting their crops prematurely to avoid total loss.
In Kwara State, reports say several rice farmlands were washed away by floods in Edu and Patigi local government areas of the state,
One of the affected farmers, Usman Nda-Lade, told our Agric Editor that 80 percent of rice farms in the riverine areas of Shonga, Lafiagi and Patigi were washed away by the floods, saying this year’s incident was the worst in recent times.
He said if necessary support was not given for dry season farming, there may be shortage of rice in the state next year.
Similarly, the Adamawa chapter of the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) says food security in the state is under threat after 5,000 of its members were affected by flooding.
The chapter’s chairman, Maduwa said reports from various local government area offices, especially those along the bank of River Benue, revealed that flood had submerged many farmlands.
The Kano State chapter of RIFAN recently raised alarm that hundreds of hectares of rice plantations have been washed away by flood in five local government areas of the state.
The chairman of rice farmers in the state, Alhaji Abubakar Haruna Aliyu, said the flood was so devastating that some farmers lost their lives.
The chairman gave the names of Warawa, Gabasawa, Minjibir, Gaya and Dawakin Kudu local government areas as the affected areas.
“A lot of farmlands, majority of which are rice plantations, have been washed away by the recent flooding as a result of the heavy downpour experienced recently. We have received disturbing reports that some of our members lost hundreds of hectares of rice plantations and animals. Lives were also lost,” he said.
Daily Trust reports that most of the rice farmers in the state are under the CBN Anchor Borrower programme of the Federal Government.
Fears of possible rice shortage
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, while expressing concern over the situation, said the country might face food crisis if the farmers who lost their crops to flooding across the states were not supported to plant again for the dry season.
Chief Ogbeh stated this at the commissioning of the National Agricultural Seed Council molecular facility and the 2018 Seed Fair & Farmers’ Field Day at Sheda, Abuja.
The minister lamented that the recent flood disaster has left many farms submerged and completely destroyed in Jigawa, Kebbi, Kogi and other places, stressing that if government did not offer support to the farmers to go back to their farms as soon as possible, the nation may have another problem at hand.
He, however, expressed hope with the release of two flood-tolerant rice varieties – faro 66 and 67 – noting that it will address this perennial problem.
The minister, who also lamented the scale of destruction at the Coscharis Rice Farms in Anambra by flood, said government was saddened by the event and the massive loss of investment suffered by the owner.
Said minister Ogbe: “We have to find out a way to assist farmers who were affected by the flood; places like Jigawa, Kebbi, Anambra and Kogi were majorly affected. Farmers lost everything they planted.
“We are also hoping that as soon as the rain ceases, we are encouraging farmers to replant so that the residual moisture on the soil plus irrigation can give us another crop by the end of December or early January, otherwise, we will be in serious trouble for rice, millet, sorghum and maize next year.”