“When I first saw the video, most part of the farm was above the water but as you can see, more than 70 per cent of the entire rice farm land is under water.”
The Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, in Delta State, Godfrey Enita, on Thursday expressed concern over the extent of damage wrought by flood on a rice farm in the state.
The commissioner spoke with reporters after inspecting a 100 hectare rice farm taken over by flood at the Benin-Owena River Basin Authority in Ngegwu, Ajaji – Illah, Oshimili North Local Government Area of the state.
According to Mr Enita, the damage to the rice farm is huge.
“In fact, when the report got to me, I did not know that it was of this magnitude.
“When I first saw the video, most part of the farm was above the water but as you can see, more than 70 per cent of the entire rice farm land is under water.
“That tells you how massive the loss is. But I must commend the farmer, he is a dogged person because of his commitment.
“These are people the government should encourage, particularly for someone who had invested much and only to experience this huge loss due to flooding,” he said.
Mr Enita said the state government would liaise with the appropriate authorities to give the farmer the necessary support to remain in business.
He said the magnitude of damage was enough to discourage the farmer, if nothing was done to “keep him afloat”.
The commissioner said how to ensure food security would remain a national discussion.
He said the issues of flooding should occupy the centre stage, if the nation must sustain the policy on food security.
“We are aware that dams will be opened and flooding will come but why something tangible has not been done to stem it over the years is what we cannot understand.”
The commissioner said there was nothing much the state government could do to stop the flooding.
“But we will continue to support our farmers in all ways possible to give them hope and encourage them to stay in their businesses,” Mr Enita said.
‘We didn’t envisage this’
On his part, the Managing Director, Merrybell Rice Farm, Felix Okonti, who lost 50 hectares (about 250 metric tonnes of rice) farm to the flood, said that his total loss was about N72 million.
According to Mr Okonti, the total hectare under the river basin land development is 100 hectares which was leased to the Delta State Government Ministry of Agriculture Assisted Rice production.
“Out of this, I own 50 hectares, and because we are mindful that there will be flood, we first planed planting 44, but due to delay in inputs, we opted for flood resistant variety, called Buga rice variety from Jos which we planted in this field.
“We did not envisage that the height of flood will be this high, normally, this variety is supposed to withstand the flood but this is not the situation.
“As you can see, it has covered all the plants and going by the average of five to seven tonnes of rice per hectare, the gravity of loss is colossal.
“It takes about 120 days (three months) for this variety to mature, and these have reached 72 days when the flood came and as you can see, there is nothing to salvage from the farm.
Mr Okonti, who encouraged himself said that despite the loss he would venture into dry season rice farming from November.
“According to him, the farm is insured and give the current market price, the total loss is put at about N72 million.
He, however, advised the federal government, as the manager of river basins and inland waterways, to construct the needed dams along the River Niger/Benue Basin to absorb the waters that cause havoc along the states in the area.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that the commissioner in company of the Permanent Secretary, Ben Agamah, and Mr Okonti, among others, paddled on a canoe through the flooded rice farm to check the extent of damage.
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