Rice farmers who are beneficiaries of the Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) under the FGN/IFAD assisted project in Kogi have lamented over the colossal loss of their rice farms to flooding.
These beneficiaries are vulnerable farmers under the IFAD-VCDP Rural Poor Stimulus Facility (RPSF), aimed at cushioning the effects of COVID-19 pandemic on rural farmers.
This is a clear story of flying from frying pan to fire as several of these people may develop disaster induced high blood pressure which may degenerate into other serious issues because their only hope of survival was taken away by the flood.
The farmers who are mainly from Ibaji, Lokoja and Ajaokuta Local Government Areas, told Kogi VCDP Media team and News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Lokoja, that all their rice farmlands had been submerged by flooding.
Narrating the ordeal,
the Ibaji Local Government Liaison Officer, Mr Achogu Fredrick, said about a total of 216 rural farmers in Ibaji who benefitted from the IFAD-VCDP RPSF, had all lost their rice farmlands to flood.
According to him, each of the 216 farmers were having one hectare of rice farmland totaling 216 hectares in Ibaji, and all have been submerged.
He stated that IFAD/ VCDP painstakingly funded RPSF to pull farmers from the dungeon of poverty created by Covid 19 in the system unfortunately the flood event pushed the people back again into hunger and starvation.
”The RPSF grant which was a palliative to support us as vulnerable rural farmers to cushion the effect of the COVID-19, have been lost again.
”A total of 216 farmers who benefitted from the RPSF grant have lost everything to the flood. Indeed, it is a double tragedy for us.
”We did not only lost our farmlands but also our houses and properties. Presently the fear of what tomorrow holds for the farmers is what is in the heart of the people now.
”We are calling on the federal, state and other relevant organisations to come to our aid, because this is a colossal damage which can not be repaired.
Infact, the entire Kogi VCDP farmers are in mourning mood currently.
Other beneficiaries in Ibaji: Mr Friday Ofor, Joel Ogala, Enefo Festus, Samuel Joseph and Victoria Ajodo, in their separate comments, expressed sadness over the sudden loss of their rice farms to flooding.
”We never expected this kind of great loss, it took us unaware. We are appealing to the relevant agencies and authorities to come to our aid,” Ajodo said.
In their separate comments, the youth and women farmers’ leaders in both Kabawa and Magajiya Clusters in Lokoja, Seidu Liman and Maryam Abubakar, respectively, who were beneficiaries of RPSF described the loss as a great damage to them and their families after investing time and resources only to swept away by flood.
Liman said the devastating effect of the loss of their rice farmlands to flooding would be huge on them and their wellbeing.
They further called on the government to come to their aid by providing palliatives for immediate relief.
The affected farmers in all the three local government areas, lamented that they did not only lost their farmlands but also their buildings and properties.
They stressed that the flood had further exposed them to more suffering than before.
Speaking on the incidence, Dr Stella Adejoh, State Programme Coordinator of IFAD/VCDP, expressed sadness over the destruction of rice farms of the vulnerable rural farmers by flooding
According to her, several people lost their means of livelihood during the COVID-19 pandemic, and consequently faced with hardships including vulnerable rural farmers.
She explained that IFAD-VCDP through the RPSF grant decided to help the vulnerable farmers affected by the pandemic to bring them out of their poverty situation.
Dr Adejoh said the farmers were provided with grant in form of inputs by IFAD such as fertilizer, certified rice seed, selective and non-selective herbicides, among others.
She noted that a total of about 614 rural farmers cut across the four rice producing Local Government Areas of Lokoja, Ibaji, Ajaokuta and Kabba/Bunu, benefitted from the RPSF in the state.
”It is very unfortunate and devastating that these poor vulnerable farmers have now lost almost everything due to flooding. I feel very sad and demoralized over the colossal loss,” she said.