Scores of farmers, under the aegis of the Association of Yam Farmers, Processors, and Marketers, have lamented the alleged government’s complacency and poor response to warnings on flooding, especially as it affects food production in Nigeria. The Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NiMet), in its 2023 Seasonal Rainfall Prediction, had warned that rainfall would be earlier than normal in most parts of the country. NiMet’s Director-General, Mansur Matazu, noted that the peak rainfall was expected, between July and September, noting that due to high soil moisture, there would be flash floods in cities, while people living in flood-prone areas would experience riverine floods.
However, while speaking with newsmen, the National President of the Association of Yam Farmers, Processors, and Marketers, Simon Irtwange, said that there are no indications that proactive measures were being taken by the government to mitigate the further impact of the flood. Irtwange said that farmers, especially members of the association were bracing up to address the cases of the flood as warned by NiMet. According to him, the government had promised to implement flood control measures across the country. “There is no indication that the government is taking any proactive measures to avert the impact of the flood. Farmers were yet to receive support promised by the government on the back of the losses recorded in the 2022 flood incident. We have not seen anything yet. No fertilizer, no assistance whatsoever”, he added.
This position was similar to that of the Potato Farmers Association of Nigeria (POFAN), as its President, Daniel Okafor, said that members were yet to receive any form of support from the government. He explained that the association had begun training members on ways to curb the impact of the flood. According to him, “In our research, we discovered that the Federal Government failed to build dams that can accommodate the waters from Cameroon. We have told our members not to depend on support from the government because they never come through. The government only gives support to big farmers in this country, not considering the farmers at the grassroots, who are really producing the food. We advise our members to plant before the flood starts and immediately after the end”.
According to the National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services (NAERLS) report, Nigeria recorded about N700 billion loss to flood incidences in 2022. The major foods affected were rice, plantain, maize, cowpea sorghum, vegetables, yam, millets, cassava, groundnut, sesame, soybeans, potato, and tomato as well as livestock such as cattle, poultry, goats, sheep, pigs, and snails. The flood also impacted farmlands, roads and bridges, farm buildings, fish ponds, warehouses, farm stores, farm barns, thatched houses, and huts, among others. The report showed that the 2022 floods in Nigeria were caused mainly by heavy precipitation, ill-managed run-offs, and unregulated river flow, especially from River Benue.
Peter Sheshi, of Onyx Rice Mill, told newsmen that efforts were ongoing, through the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) programme, to assist over 7,000 rice farmers, especially those affected by floods in Niger, Benue, Kebbi, and Nasarawa states. “Under the IFAD impact assessment value chain program, we have provided assistance to rice farmers. Encourage them to embrace dry-season farming, so they do not fall victims to flooding. Also, through the Nigerian Agricultural insurance Corporation, many farmers have been compensated to the tune of N14 million. The Federal Government has also ensured that Nigerians, as well as farmers, are informed early enough about rainfall, through the Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NiMet). We have also provided grants or seed (money), and extension programmes, to boost rice production”, he said.