Some farmers in the South-South region have suffered massive losses of agricultural produce and farmland, resulting in wastage of resources, increased food prices and food insecurity.
As the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) warned on Monday that 13 states, including those in the region, will face severe flooding this year, they said their challenges are increasing year on year.
In the survey, farmers lamented that some had taken loans for their agricultural businesses but could not repay the loans due to the threat of flooding.
Ernest Owat of Araghara Community in Obubra Local Government Area of Cross River said the community witnessed massive destruction of farmland and agricultural produce due to massive flooding in August.
“Obubra, being one of the biggest cassava producers in the state, lost huge cassava, yam and rice farms to the devastation caused by the flood,” he said.
The deputy chairman of the local government area, Sulh Obeten, called on the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) to help residents who lost their farmland, crops, homes and loved ones.
“Floods can be natural but their impact on agriculture can be minimized if farmers follow meteorological reports,” said Nkor Nathaniel, Director of Agricultural Services at the Cross River Ministry of Agriculture.
He added that the reports may not be accurate, but can give good predictions of the areas a farmer should run each year.
In Rivers, Chairman, Etche Cooperative Farmers Association, Goodwin Akandu, noted that several farms in parts of Ahoada-East, Ahoada-West, Etche, Ikwerre and Obio/Akpor LGAs have recorded high losses of tubers.
According to him, farmers in Umu-agwo and Okoro-agwu farm settlements in Etche region had sad experiences as many cassava farms were destroyed during the flood.
Another farmer in Ahoada-West, Edith Owolo, said his communal farmland, measuring three hectares and shared among three cassava-farmer cooperative groups, was destroyed by floods this year.
He lamented that each group invested one million naira in agricultural implements and N3 million in labour, but lost everything to the floods.
Meanwhile, the Head of Agriculture, Edo Ikpoba-Okha local government council, Godwin Odigie, expressed the adverse effects of the flood on farmlands, saying it eroded the topsoil nutrients.
Joseph Akpofabe, the spokesman for NEMA’s Benin operations office, said flood-induced parasites have led to reduced feed intake by livestock.
Flooding is a breeding ground for parasites in fishponds and flooding in fishponds, he said.
On his part, Izibeken Otiti, a farmer in Bayelsa, said that apart from the direct impact, the inundation of farmlands creates complex abiotic stress on crops. According to him, the combination of all the physical and chemical changes caused by floods can significantly reduce crop growth and productivity.
Raymos Guanah, a mechanized rice farmer and former commissioner in the Delta, said: ”Flood-based farming systems are underestimated and poorly understood by governments and relevant stakeholders. To realize the full potential, governance needs to be improved by educating policymakers, grassroots workers, scientists and other water professionals about the potential and benefits of floodplain agriculture.”
Another mechanized farmer in Ugbolu near Asaba, Samuel Dike, said some farmers still do not know the type of crops they will plant in their areas, especially as the rainy season approaches.
“Farmers who borrow money to finance their farms remember the damage caused by floods to their fields, some of them do not even repair the damage and repeat the same mistake every year,” he added.
Environmentalist Theresa Omame noted that although agriculture was more affected by the effects of floods, most households depended solely on farming.
However, he said the government should do more and not allow farmers to remain unemployed to ensure food security and economic growth.