By Olawale Ajimotokan
The federal government has sent relief materials to Kebbi State rice farmers whose over 20,000 hectares of farmlands were washed away by floods following torrential rains and inflow of water from neighboring states.
The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq, handed the relief materials on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari to the affected farmers when she presented COVID-19 palliatives and flood advocacy materials to the state last Wednesday.
The minister, 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 that damage as colossal.
She said the president was 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 by the federal government.
“I am here on behalf of President Buhari 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.
“The government is also supporting the communities displaced by the flood 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.
Farouq also 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.
She said farm inputs comprising seeds and seedlings, agrochemicals, knapsack sprayers and fertilizers were distributed to targeted beneficiaries in Birnin Kebbi, Shanga, Gwandu, Bunza, Jega, Aliero, Kalgo, Dandi and Zuru Local Government Areas to enable them recover from the losses suffered, and urged the state government to activate measures against further damage by flood.
Meanwhile, the Kebbi State 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-neighboring states like Adamawa, Rima River; Zamfara, Sokoto and Niger States.
“To my right is our border with Sokoto State, 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,” the governor lamented.
Bagudu, therefore, pleaded with the minister to donate seedlings to the farmers to resume farming as soon as possible.
Farouq subsequently handed over food items, including 31 trailer-loads of maize, 33 trailers loaded with millet and four trailers loaded with sorghum to cater for the needs of 272,301 households in Kebbi State.