By Chimezie Godfrey
The Humanitarian Minister, Sadiya Farouq has commiserated with the government and people of Kebbi state after several hectares of rice farmlands were washed away by floods following torrential rains and inflow of water from neighboring states.
The Farouq who visited the Dukka bridge which was swept away by the flood, cutting off the community’s link with other villages described the extent of damage as colossal.
At the presentation of Covid-19 palliatives and flood advocacy materials to the state on Wednesday September 16, 2020, the Minister sympathized with the farmers who were said to have lost over 20,000 hectares of rice farmlands to the floods.
“Let me begin by conveying the sympathy of the Federal Government to the Government and people of Kebbi State over the recent floods that inundated many communities and farmlands.
“It is sad that in some of these farms, the crops were said to be nearing harvest, thus cutting short the joy of bumper reaping by the expectant farmers who have invested so much resources,” she said.
The Minister said that President Buhari is deeply concerned about the impact of the flood and has since directed the assessment of the situation in Kebbi and other states for necessary support to the affected persons from the Federal Government.
“I am here on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, to present to you, assorted grains from the National Food Reserve, approved as palliative for distribution to vulnerable persons affected by the action of movement restriction to curtail the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
“Government is also supporting the communities displaced by the floods with rice, beans, blankets, mosquito nets, insect repellents, roofing sheets, cement, nails and other essential materials needed to put up make- shift shelters for the affected persons,”she said.
The Minister recalled that the Federal Government had also approved and initiated an Emergency Agricultural Intervention in 2018 and flagged off verification of 10, 834 affected farmers in 2019.
According to her, farm inputs comprising seeds and seedlings, agrochemicals, knapsack sprayers and fertilizers were distributed to target beneficiaries in Birnin Kebbi, Shanga, Gwandu, Bunza, Jega, Aliero, Kalgo, Dandi and Zuru Local Government Areas to enable them recover from the losses suffered.
She urged the state government to activate measures against further damage by the flood.
The Minister handed over food items which includes 31 trailer load of maize, 33 trailer load of millet, 4 trailer load of sorghum to carter for the needs of 272, 301 households in Kebbi state.
Earlier, while inspecting the collapsed bridge, Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu lamented the massive destruction of rice farms by the floods describing it as unprecedented.
“This flood is coming from the River Niger, from neighboring states like Adamawa, from Rima River, Zamfara, Sokoto and Niger.
“To my right is our border with Sokoto and it’s all a rice farm on both sides. At the minimum, a 600km plain was destroyed by the flood.
“This is very unusual because we always pray for flood to help our rice farming but this is extreme because once rice is covered by water for more than three days, it’s gone.
“The last time we had something like this was in 2012,” he lamented.
Governor Bagudu pleaded with the minister to donate seedlings to the farmers to resume farming as soon as possible.
He thanked President Buhari for his intervention which started in 2018.
“The most important support needed now is not even food to eat today.
“It is that in the next two weeks, they should have seedlings to plant again.
“We plead that the farmers are supported with high quality seedlings so that they can start planting again,” he appealed.