The Devasting massive flood has threaten Nigeria’s rice sufficiency dream sweeping through 11 local government areas of Kebbi State which left the citizens in tears and sorrows.
Kebbi State was has lost lives, farmlands, roads and bridges as a result of the devastating flood that nobody envisaged would destroy this much.
Not less than 100,000 rice farmers are in dire need of assistance to mitigate the effects of the destructions on their farm lands.
The affected local government areas are Argungu, Birnin Kebbi, Bunza, Suru, KoKo-Besse, Yauri, Shanga, Bagudo, Maiyama, Jega and Dandi respectively.
8 lives were lost amid the flood in Tungar Gehuru village of the Jega Local Government Area.
Victims of a boat died as a result of overflowing of the river in the area due to the flood.
Alhaji Aliyu Soda who is an elder farmer worried that the major rice producing local government areas in the state are badly affected by the flood which includes his farming community.
He stated, “In less than two years of massive cultivation, Kebbi State has recorded an impressive increase in rice production from less than a million tonnes to over two million tonnes.
“Today, rice production has massively increased as many individuals who were not rice farmers but mere consumers have gladly willingly gone back to farming, this is due to the stoppage of importation of foreign rice produced and the establishment of small and large-scale rice mills in Nigeria.
“The massive rice production in Kebbi state has projected instrumental factor to the rice revolution in Nigeria. Sadly, however, the massive rice production in the state is beneath threat as a result of the recent massive flood recorded in Kebbi state.”
While requesting to the government to assist the farmers with inputs such as assorted seeds and fertilizers, among others, Soda added, “For over 11 years, we never saw any flood disaster as devastating as this one.”
Suleiman Bashir, another rice farmer at the Dukku area, stood helplessly far away and watched his rice farmland submerged in water. Consoled by PUNCH correspondent, he asked, “Where do I begin from again?”
My two large rice farms have been completely submerged. I beg the state and federal government to come to my and other farmers’ aid and reduce this suffering.
Although the state had experienced flood disasters before, none was as devastating as the 2020 flood. It came when we were expecting bumper harvests. The flood, regrettably, has dashed the hopes of many of us.
“The flood that came was as a result of continuous rainfall, making the dams to be filled to capacity and the subsequent release of water to farmlands. So, the disaster was caused by a culmination of factors that include intensive rainfall and the release of water from the dams.
The losses incurred, especially by rice farmers in Kebbi State, were colossal and immeasurable; they run into billions of naira. Thousands of hectares of Fadama rice farms in the state were not spared by the raging flood.”
The colossal damage to physical infrastructure, such as roads and bridges across the state, was legendary, running into billions of naira. Many major roads and bridges were washed away by the flood, with a host of communities completely cut off from the remaining parts of the state. Preliminary reports revealed that over six bridges collapsed as a result of the flood.
The Kebbi State Emergency Management Agency recorded that farmers lost over N5bn worth of farm produce to flood in the state.
The Chairman, Kebbi SEMA, Alhaji Sani Dododo, in his account said, “The flood submerged more than 450,000 hectares of rice plantation in the lowland. Over 50,000 hectares of millet, sorghum, maize and sugarcane plantations were also destroyed in the highland.
“When you combine the two areas, you will arrive at about 500,000 hectares destroyed by flood this year and rice farmers were the worst hit. This is because rice constitutes about 90 per cent of the total plantation. The remaining crops stood at only 10 per cent.”
Prior to the sweeping flood, Kebbi State was fast becoming the breadbasket of the nation, a development that attracted the attention of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), prompting him to kick-start the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme in the state in 2015 to provide loans and agricultural inputs such as cheap fertilizers, improved seeds, chemicals and water pumping machines, among others. No fewer than 100,000 rice farmers in the state have benefitted from the programme, being administered by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
The President chose Kebbi State to launch his diversification agenda meant to improve the nation’s economy through agriculture in order to reduce the over-dependence on oil; bolster its food security by achieving self-sufficiency in rice production; curb importation of rice and create more employment opportunities for the teeming unemployed youths in the country.
Kebbi State farmers are pivotal to the Federal Government’s plan to ensure that the country is self-sufficient in rice productions. The floods, therefore, could be seen as threats to the plan.
Interestingly, the flood situation became a rallying call to duty for Governor Atiku Bagudu, who was compelled to embark on an on-the-spot assessment and condolence visitation to the affected communities and farmlands across the state.
The governor, who defied the difficult terrains of the hinterlands, visited submerged rice farmlands in Bakin Gada, Zanginawa and Yeldu areas of the Argungu Local Government Area.
Bagudu also visited Birnin Tudu, Tiggi, Shaharma and Agoda communities and Kwakkwashe village in the Augie Local Government Area, where assorted relief materials were donated to the victims.
The governor, in continuation of his assessment tour, also visited Suru, Bunza, Kalgo and Birnin Kebbi local government areas to see the devastation caused by the flood. He also inspected various roads and the bridge damaged by the flood at Jefeji community in the Kangiwa Local Government Area, where the community was cut off by the damaged bridge.
The state’s Commissioner for Agriculture, Attahiru Maccido, said, “The visit was to assess the damages and see how we can get immediate remedies and succour for those who lost their sustainable means of livelihood.
“The flood submerged thousands hectares of farmlands and houses, destroyed farm produce and personal belongings of the affected communities.
“What we need is large water reservoirs for the rain water, so that it can be used for other activities. Preliminary assessment showed that damage to rice farms and other produce due to the flood could be worth billions of naira.”
He added, “Compensation is a solution in a way, but we are looking for more durable and plausible solutions to the recurring devastating flood.
“We call on the Federal Government to construct a reservoir. I think among the states that are into farming, Kebbi is the only state that does not have a dam of its own.”
Macciddo noted that the construction of a dam would control flooding and encourage effective utilisation of water and agricultural resources in the state.
The dam project, according to him, will also mobilise participation in agriculture as well as encourage all-year round farming.
Recall that besides Kebbi State, there have been floods in Kano and Jigawa states. The floods also destroyed rice farms in the two states.