By Victor Ogunje
The Ekiti State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), has lamented the destruction of over 200 hectares of land of cocoa and kola nut farms by fire in some towns it described as the cocoa belt of the state.
The fire disaster occurred at Ikoro and Iloro communities in Ijero Local Government Area of the state.
The Chairman of the SEMA, Capt. Sunday Adebomi (rtd), stated that other farm produce that were gutted by the fire included oranges, palm trees, plantains, pineapples, cassava as well as maize that were worth several millions of Naira.
The SEMA boss made the revelation in Ikoro-Ekiti, yesterday during a visit to the farms to ascertain the level of damage done to the farms.
Adebomi, who was accompanied by the officials of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), said that the message was communicated to his office by one of the affected farmers.
He promised the affected farmers that the Ekiti State Government would assist them with seedlings and chemicals as well as other relief materials in order to cushion the effects of the inferno.
He said: “Cocoa and kolanut are two cash crops that had given us national recognition apart from providing economic supports to many citizens and we can’t afford to lose the comparative advantage we have been enjoying on these plants.”
The NEMA Director of Operations in Ondo, Ekiti and Osun States, Mr. Olusegun Afolayan, said the fire incident, which affected about 40 farmers had rendered them jobless and caused them to lose their sources of livelihood.
Afolayan said: “The NEMA and the SEMA have jointly visited some of the affected farm settlements for on the spot assessment of the damage. More than 200 hectares of cocoa and other cash crops plantations were destroyed by the inferno.
“I will forward the report of the inferno and the plight of the farmers to the headquarters of the agency and ensure that affected farmers get compensations. Let me equally warn our farmers to always take caution on how to avert future occurrence.”
One of the farmers, Mr. Dosumu Oladapo, lamented that the fire disaster has brought sadness to him.
Oladapo said that the incident has rendered him jobless as he could not easily find alternative job.
He explained that he borrowed money from a cooperative society in the area few months ago to hire labourers and purchased chemicals before the fire struck.
The farmer appealed to the government, private and religious organisations, as well as public spirited individuals to assist and enable him to bounce back.
Another victim of the fire disaster, Mr. Olomu Eniola, pleaded with the government and well-meaning individuals and corporate organisations to come to his aid.