Aminat Yahaya —
Rice farmers, Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) beneficiaries in north central Kogi state have cried out over the destruction of their farmlands by flood.
Environews said that farmers, mostly from Lokoja, Ibaji and Ajaokuta Local Government areas of the state, yesterday in Lokoja said they had suffered ‘colossal losses’ on their rice farmlands due to flooding.
The VCDP is a Federal Government and International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD)-assisted project.
The farmers are under the IFAD-VCDP Rural Poor Stimulus Facility (RPSF), designed to cushion the effects of COVID-19 pandemic on rural farmers.
The Liaison Officer in Ibaji Local Government, Mr Achogu Fredrick, disclosed that about 216 rural farmers in the area, who benefitted from the IFAD-VCDP RPSF, had all lost their rice farmlands to flood.
According to him, each of the 216 farmers have one hectare of rice farmland, all totaling 216 hectares in Ibaji, all of which had been submerged.
He said that IFAD and VCDP had funded RPSF to pull farmers from poverty created by COVID-19, adding, however, that the flood had pushed them back into hunger and starvation.
”The RPSF grant, which is a palliative to support us as vulnerable rural farmers to cushion the effect of the COVID-19, has been lost again.
”A total of 216 farmers, who benefitted from the RPSF grant, have lost everything to the flood. Indeed, it is a double tragedy for us.
”We did not only lose our farmlands but also, our houses and other property. The fear of what tomorrow holds for the farmers is what is in the heart of the people now.
”We are calling on the federal and state governments as well as other relevant organisations to come to our aid, because this is a colossal damage which cannot be easily repaired.
Infact, the entire Kogi VCDP farmers are in mourning mood now,” he said.
One of the beneficiaries, Mr Friday Ofor, expressed sadness over the sudden loss of their rice farms to flooding.
”We never expected this kind of great loss. It caught us unawares. We are appealing to relevant agencies to come to our aid,” Offor said.
Seidu Liman, youth and women farmers’ leaders in Kabawa and Magajiya clusters, described the situation as a great damage to them and their families.
Liman said that the effect of the loss on their rice farmlands would be huge on their wellbeing, after investing their time and resources.
He called on government to come to their aid by providing palliatives for immediate relief.
Maryam Abubakar, another women leader, said that the affected farmers in all the three local government areas lost their farmlands and other property.
Abubakar said that the flood had further exposed the farmers to more suffering than before.
Also, Dr Stella Adejoh, State Programme Coordinator of IFAD-VCDP, expressed sadness over the destruction of rice farms by flood.
According to her, several people, including vulnerable rural farmers, lost their means of livelihood during the COVID-19 pandemic and are consequently faced with hardships.
Adejoh said that IFAD-VCDP, through the RPSF grant, decided to help vulnerable farmers affected by the pandemic to bring them out of poverty.
She said that the farmers were provided grant in form of inputs, such as fertiliser, certified rice seed as well as selective and non-selective herbicides.
She said that about 614 rural farmers, cutting across the four rice producing local government areas of Lokoja, Ibaji, Ajaokuta and Kabba/Bunu, benefitted from the RPSF in the state.
According to her, it is regrettable that the vulnerable farmers have lost almost everything due to flooding, adding, ”I feel very sad and demoralised over the colossal loss.”