From Priscilla Ediare, Ado-Ekiti
The Ekiti State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) has disclosed that cocoa and kolanut farms covering over 200 hectares of land in some towns recognised as the cocoa belt of Ekiti State have been destroyed by fire this dry season.
The fire disaster occured at Ikoro and Iloro communities in the Ijero Local Government Area of the state.
The Chairman of the Agency, Capt Sunday Adebomi (retd), said other cash crops destroyed by the fire were oranges, palm trees, plantains, pineapples, cassava, as well as maize farms, worth several millions of naira.
The SEMA boss made the disclosure in Ikoro-Ekiti on Monday during an assessment visit to the farms to ascertain the level of damage done by the disaster.
The SEMA helmsman accompanied by the officials of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said the message was communicated to his office by one of the affected farmers.
While commiserating with the affected farmers, the SEMA chair promised that the ‘Ekiti State Government would assist all the victims by giving you seedlings and chemicals as well as other relief materials in order to cushion the effects of the inferno.
‘Cocoa and kolanut are two cash crops that had given us national recognition apart from providing economic supports to many citizens and we can’t afford to lose the comparative advantage we have been enjoying on these plants.’
The NEMA Director of Operations in Ondo, Ekiti and Osun states, Mr Olusegun Afolayan, said the fire incident, which affected about 40 farmers in the area, had rendered them jobless and losing their means of economic support.
According to him, ‘NEMA and the SEMA have jointly visited some of the affected farm settlements for on the spot assessment of the damage. More than 200 hectares of cocoa and other cash crops plantations were destroyed by the the inferno.
‘I will forward the report of the inferno and the plight of the farmers to the headquarters of the agency and ensure that affected farmers get compensations. Let me equally warn our farmers to always take caution on how to avert future occurrence.’
One of the affected farmers, Mr Dosumu Oladapo, lamented over the situation which he said has brought sadness to him owing to the extent of damage done to his farm.
He also expressed shock over the incident which he said has rendered him jobless as he could not easily find an alternative job, explaining that he borrowed money from a cooperative society in the area only a few months ago to hire labourers and purchase chemicals before the fire struck.
The distraught farmer appealed to the government, private and religious organisations, as well as public-spirited individuals to assist him, saying that the move would enable him to come back to life.
Another victim who suffered losses, Mr Olomu Eniola, pleaded with the government as well as well-meaning individuals and corporate organisations to come to his aid.