The Chairman of Benue State chapter of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria, Aondoana Ohembe, has reiterated Governor Samuel Ortom’s concern that the country risks food shortage, following last week’s flooding which devastated several communities in the state.
The farmer told newsmen that hundreds of locals farmers, particularly those engaged in mechanised farming, had been counting their losses caused by the flood.
Ohembe said he lost over 50 hectares of farmland to the flood.
He said, “There is an imminent food scarcity this year if rain continues to wreak havoc in the state. As I speak, hundreds of hectares of farmlands belonging to our association have been washed away.
“Benue has comparative advantage in yam, cassava, rice, corn, soybeans and sesame seed. The state is key to the food security of the nation and this year we have invested heavily in farming but the havoc the flood wreaked in the state is unimaginable. I hope Nigeria does not experience a food crisis this year.”
The AFAN chairman added that the flooding affected some other unreported local governments, including Logo, Buruku, Gboko, Tarka, Katsina Ala, Agatu and other council areas.
A rice farmer identified as Mrs. Kajo claimed that she lost 100 hectares of rice to the flood in Buruku.
Kajo said, “The downpour on Wednesday destroyed my farmlands of about 100 hectares located in three places along River Buruku. I took a loan to embark on farming. Unfortunately, the farmlands have been submerged.”
A widow, Mrs. Cecilia Terkaa Faga, who lives in an estate behind Zone 4 Police Headquarters, also bemoaned the level of damage the flood had done to her property.
She said, “Government should do something because the flood is becoming too much for us. For a widow like me with five children, I do not have anywhere to stay.
“Our belongings are inside (the house). By the time we were woken up, we were unable to get out with some of our belongings.”
One of the victims in Wurukum area, Mr. Godwin Awuhe, expressed worry over the government’s reluctance to address the issue of flooding.
“The flooding is as a result of blocked water channels; government is not also helping matters because they allocate plots of lands situated on water paths to people.
“Most of the drainages constructed on major streets are blocked, and the Benue sanitation agency seems to be doing nothing about that. They allow indiscriminate dumping of refuse,” he noted.
Ortom, during a tour of the devastated areas in his Guma country home, on Saturday, expressed worry over the destruction of farmlands and food storage facilities.
The governor, who killed a snake during the tour, inspected two major bridges submerged by River Guma at Tor Kpande and Mande Ortom.
According to him, two camps were opened in Makurdi to shelter the displaced persons and provide other assistance. Chairmen of the 23 local government areas were directed to make use of designated primary schools as camps for flood victims in their areas.
The worst-hit communities included Tse-Adorogo, the governor’s village; Tse-Igba, Tse-Akor, Tse-Terzar, Tse-Abi, Tor Kpande and most of the villages on the stretch between Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi and Gbajimba, the local government council headquarters.
The disaster also left the newly constructed Daudu-Gbajimba, and the university roads impassable after several portions of the roads.