Several rice farms in swampy communities in Benue State were recently wreaked by flood so bad that the owners are now devastated.
Our correspondent reports that the small-holder farmers are worst hit by the flood, which submerged their out-growers fields in different locations across the state.
Apart from the big time rice farmers, some of whom insured their farms, lots of the small holders farmers could not afford to insure their fields, hence their worry about the loss they suffered.
The Chairman of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) in Benue state, Comrade Aondongu Saaku, said at least 10,000 rice farmers were affected by the flood across different communities in the state.
Saaku said that the effect was devastating as more than 3000 farms along river Benue coastline were completely ruined.
He explained that rice farms along Abinisi and Makurdi as well as those between Makurdi and Oweto were a sad sight to behold.
“A farmer lost over 100 hectares of his rice farm to the flood. Another woman also lost her five-and half-hectares of rice farm completely to the flood. This development will surely shoot up the prices of rice in the days ahead,” the AFAN chairman said.
One of the big farmers, Vitalis Tarnongu, who coordinates an out-grower scheme consisting of 300 small holders farmers also expressed worry that the development could impact negatively on food production in the state.
“There will be shortage of food at the end of this harvest season,” he said.
Tarnongu, said all 300 hectares of the out grower farm situated in different communities of the state were completely submerged by the flood occasioned by the release of water from the Lagdo dam in Cameroon Republic.
The farmer, who also lost his personal 12 hectares of rice farm to the flood, explained that a total of over N10 million he would have generated from the harvest went down the drain.
He appealed to the government at various levels to come to the rescue of the small holders farmers by providing necessary input to cushion the effect of the losses suffered.
“As you see, it’s a traumatic situation to watch what you have worked for all through the year just gone down the drain. The plants were already at the harvesting stage and the yield this year was so good before the flood washed it off.”
Tarnongu stressed the need for the Federal Government to dredge the River Benue, noting that the government should not allow the farmers to continue to suffer huge losses every year.
“Our eyes are on the government to help us bounce back, small holder farmers have no capacity to absorb the shock. We (big time) farmers are dependent on smallholders farmers to aggregate,” Tarnongu added.