Ahmed Abubakar, Dutse
For decades, typha grass has haunted the communities and people resident along the bank of Hadejia River in Kirikasamma Local Government Area of Jigawa. The people of this community who are predominantly fishermen and irrigation farmers, have suffered enormous loss because of the devastating effect of these grasses.
As farmers and fishermen, these communities largely depend on the river for their survival. But like a troublesome enemy, the grass grows right in the heart of the water, obstructs their harvests and has become a haven for Quilla birds, which fly low to eat up farm produce.
In the past, there have been concerted efforts to dredge the river and destroy the grasses, which spread across hundreds of kilometres in length, extending up to the Lake Chad Basin. But the efforts so far have been futile.
Left with little or no option, the youths of the community decided to dredge the river themselves. At Guri Local Government, one of the worst hit areas, the people cultivate chilly, onion and cotton, but hardly go home with a full basket of harvest because of the grass.
One of the affected farmers, Ishaka Yakubu told Daily Sun that it is very difficult to cultivate in their farmlands as a result of typha grass, saying the grass harbors pests that spread to our crops.
He recalled the Federal and State government had made efforts to kill the dreaded grass with chemicals through aerial sprays adding that heavy machines were used to excavate the blocked channels. He said many members of the affected communities have migrated to urban centers in search for a better life since their age- long profession has come under threat.
Suleman Isa, aged 62, said; “This typha grass has become a menace to us. In those days, when we were younger, our parents depended on fishing to fend for their families. In a single day, we could get as much as what would sustain us for a week.
“With the coming of this typha grass, we cannot survive as fishermen around this river. Our youths now prefer to go to the towns for menial jobs that can hardly sustain their families”
The chairman, Farmers Association of Nigeria, Jigawa State, Mai Unguwa Jaga stated that, ”Typha grass is very stubborn and it grows as high as 30 meters on the waterways our people use for fishing and farming.
“When you see the size of the grass, the large area it occupies and of course, the dangerous reptiles that it harbours, you will agree with me that there is an urgent need for the Federal Government to intervene,” he said.
The Special Adviser to the Jigawa State Governor on Community Development, Hamza Hadejia shared a similar view. He explained that the state government has started engaging the affected communities towards improving the flow of water in the river for fishing and irrigation development.
Deputy Governor of Jigawa State, Umar Namadi had recently flagged-off the distribution of working tools to hundreds of communities in Miga Local Government Area. Represented by the State Commissioner of Environment, Ibrahim Baba Chaichai, he said the working tools would be used to clear the grass blocking the flow of water in the river.