The flood has submerged about 20 percent of the 110 hectares of rice field at the Leventis Farm in Agenebode, cultivated by farmers with state support
Tony Osauzo, Benin
Rising floods from the Niger River is threatening efforts by the Edo State Government in collaboration with local farmers to increase food production this farming season.
The flood has already submerged about 20 percent of the 110 hectares of rice field at the Leventis Farm in Agenebode, cultivated by farmers with state government support under the FADAMA III financing project.
Rice farmers are praying for sun to shine for about a week to enable their rice to be dry for harvesting.
Yesterday, some of the farmers whose rice had dried up, had to use canoes to convey their harvested rice to dry land, while others were apprehensive that water levels might rise to cover the entire rice farm.
Commenting on the flood, Chairman of the rice farmers, Mr Omoaka Paul, said they have only harvested five hectares of the 110 hectares, adding that they first experienced such floods that destroyed their rice in 2012.
He prayed that the unharvested rice would dry up before water levels rise, saying “80 percent of the farmers may not be able to harvest their rice because the rice is yet to dry up and the river is still coming. Where the water was yesterday, it has risen again today.
“We have harvested five hectares out of 110. If not for Leventis Farm that gave us combined harvesters, it would have been difficult for us. We are struggling to do all things to harvest the dried ones,” Omoaka complained.
On his part, another farmer, who identified himself as Pius, said he spent N270,000 to cultivate his one hectare farm and was happy that the rice was doing well before the flood came.
He, however, said his rice was yet to be due for harvest due to absence of sunshine.
Meanwhile, Special Adviser to the Governor on Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security Programme, Prince Joe Okojie, expressed disappointment that the state pilot rice farms were being destroyed by floods.
Okojie, who visited the farm to ascertain the extent of damage, recalled that 280 hectares of rice farms were destroyed by flood last month at Iguoriakhi in Ovia South West local government area.
He said the state government expected to harvest six metric tons per hectare but the flood has reduced it to four tonnes per hectare.
“We did 110 hectares of rice in Agenebode here. We have a cluster of 110 farmers with each farmer farming one hectare. We were expecting four to six metric tons per hectare.
“What we have to do is to attempt to start early next year. We started planting in May this year. We will start early so that we can prevent further disaster. We will have a conversation with the farmers to see what government can do.
“The last time they witnessed anything like this was in 2012. We were not anticipating anything like this. There is little to nothing anybody can do about nature,” the adviser said.
In his comment, State Project Coordinator for the FADAMA III project, Dr Edward Izevbigie, said he was happy that the rice field was not totally submerged by flood.
“This place is partially submerged. They are still able to make four tonnes per hectare as against the proposed five tons The adverse effect of the flood is not too much on the farmers since they were still able to make harvest,” he said.