From Priscilla Ediare, Ado-Ekiti
The Ekiti State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) has warned of food shortages in the state in the next planting season, following the ravaging of food and cash crop plantations by wildfires across the state’s 16 Local Government Areas.
The Chairman of the Agency, Capt Sunday Adebomi (retd), said the recent fire incident in the state had affected about nine local governments and destroyed food crops belonging to about 2,400 farmers, which he described as a bad omen for food production and supply.
Adebomi raised the alarm on Monday while inspecting cocoa, oil palm and other food and cash crop plantations destroyed by inferno in Omuo-Ekiti and Omuo-Ekiti in Ekiti East and Oye Local Government Areas of the state, respectively.
He lamented that food and cash crops estimated at about five thousand hectares were destroyed during the fire disaster, adding that it might affect the development of agriculture in the state.
Adebomi, who noted that the development if not properly checked, might lead the state to experience famine later in the year, expressed optimism that the Fayemi administration would do everything to bring succour to the farmers.
‘Let me give the assurance that the government would always do everything to guarantee the safety of lives and property of farmers in the state. So, don’t panic as the government has concluded plans to empower them,’ he stated.
‘I admonish our farmers to see the fire incident as a major challenge for them to do more and embrace mechanize farming, as the government would do everything to empower them.
‘See this fire disaster as a challenge for you to redouble your efforts and embrace the planting of more food crops. This is the best move that would further tackle the imminent food shortage in respect of the fire disaster,’ he said.
Adebomi explained that arrangements have been concluded by the Ekiti State Government for a total re-engineering of agriculture by involving key policymakers and youths in the development of the agricultural sector.
Speaking on the destruction, a 75-year-old man and a retired civil servant in Ikota, Omuo-Ekiti, Mr Sunday Fajana, said he lost about five hectares of cocoa and oil palm plantation in the inferno.
He said that ‘the fire incident, which started at about 9 pm, destroyed all that I have laboured for since I retired from the Ekiti civil service. I appeal to the government and public-spirited individuals to assist me financially.’
The Owajumu of Omu-Ekiti, Oye Local Government, Oba Ogundeji Adeyeye, lamented the incident, which he said has affected about 50 farmers in his community.
The traditional ruler appealed to the government as well as the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to come to the assistance of the people of the community as the fire has destroyed all agricultural products in the community.