BusinessDay
NigeriaDecides2023

2022 flooding destroys crops, livestock across states

Farmers are counting their losses from ravaged farmlands. Their investments in cultivated farmlands have been washed off by floods.

There are those who borrowed money from financial institutions or cooperative societies to farming. Some others borrowed under the Anchor Borrowers scheme of the Central Bank of Nigeria. Many will struggle to repay, others will default.

According to a top official at the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, the flood has so far wreaked havoc in 31 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

With reports and estimates that already predict 6.3 million children under five to suffer from malnutrition across the Sahel this year, floods damaging crops and other food sources will impact hunger levels in Nigeria, as the figures are likely to worsen. Adamawa, Anambra, Gombe, Jigawa, parts of Kaduna, Kogi, Niger, Delta, Benue, Nasarawa, etc. are some of the states where farmers suffered losses, and some even lost their lives.

“In some cases, the plantations and livestock were lost completely, whereas, in others, sizeable quantities were lost. On the whole, we can safely say that about 60 percent or more of the expected yields were lost to flooding,” Ibrahim Kabiru, national president of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) said.

The flooding in Nasarawa state affected one of the nation’s largest rice farms, which may lead to an increase in price of the staple ahead of the festive season.

Olam Nigeria Limited is one of Nigeria’s biggest agri-business companies, and it has said the massive flooding from River Benue damaged its crops and infrastructure.

It said the incident affected the company’s $20 million investment, with more than 4,000 hectares of its farmland submerged. Olam Agric disclosed that the implication was a 25 percent loss of Nigeria’s rice needs; a development that affects farmers and everyone alike.

Read also: Flooding: Woes and worries as nature’s fury spreads

Thousands of hectares of rice farms in Taraba, Jigawa, Kano, Benue, Niger, Kogi, Kebbi, among other producing states up North, have also been reportedly washed away.

In Taraba State, one of the leading rice-producing states in the country, farmers say about 90 percent of farms were destroyed by flood.

In Niger-Delta States, the oil and gas-rich regions, losses incurred on account of the flood crisis are invaluable due to the release of Lagdo Dam in Cameroon and normal rains, coupled with the combined waters of rivers Niger and Benue.

Flood in Delta states is ravaging coastline communities. Uwheru Kingdom in Ughelli North local government of the state is affected.

“This same thing happened in 2012, but this one is looking more serious than that of 2012 because highlands are affected. A lot of crops especially cassava and groundnuts are damaged,” said Edewor Akpedafe, an indigene of Oreba village, Uwheru Kingdom.

Photo credit: Edewor Akpedafe of Uwheru Kingdom, Delta State.

Furthermore, Climate change-mediated floods threaten fish farming. It affects the quality of water as well as the state of fish.

Its impacts are a reduction in fish catch, erosion of human habitat, reduction of income of fishermen, destroyed fishing implements, and negative impact on fish farmers’ social life.

“Fishermen can’t go fishing because it is unsafe,” Akpedafe said.

About two months back, farmers at Erinwe Village in Ogun State reportedly lost over N300m worth of fish, as the fish were washed away by flood.

The floods have so far destroyed rice, maize, sorghum, millet, beans, groundnut, beans farms, and hundreds of livestock.

BusinessDay had earlier reported that up to 200,000 hectares of land had been destroyed in the North-East.

Farmers in the region have expressed concerns over large-scale destruction of produce, saying the damage caused by the disaster could be estimated at over N30 billion.

Kabiru, AFAN’s president, in a phone interview with BusinessDay, said that the remaining three months of 2022 and the early part of 2023 might witness acute shortage of food, and high prices where it is available.

Farmers in the north cannot move their produce and animals to the south while tanker drivers cannot move fuel to the north.

“The current development portends food insufficiency for the nation, and the farmers are the hardest hit as some of them will suffer serious hunger and eventual abject poverty,” he said.

Insecurity as a result of nefarious activities of bandits has, prior to now, impacted negatively on farming activities. The flash floods across the many areas regarded as the “food baskets of the nation” have worsened the situation.

This then means that food prices will soar while the smuggling of foodstuffs from Nigeria’s neighbouring countries will increase geometrically. The government may have no choice but to grant import licenses to those who want to bring in food items from abroad, experts say.

“One has to also consider the famine in the Horn of Africa caused by drought & conflict in Ethiopia & Somalia, war in Ukraine, Syria & beyond to understand that there needs to be an urgent programme to plan for food insecurity next year,” said Peccavi Consulting Ltd in a tweet from its official handle.

Though weather predictions were out early enough to set the tone for what to expect in the course of the year, the country was the least prepared for it.

“The gathering of clouds now signals danger and sends shivers down the spine of many, and strangely, it has rained a lot this year,” a motorist in Lagos said.

Kabiru however submits that farmers be incentivized to go back to their farms by using residual moisture when the flood waters recede and using groundwater in some cases to embark on all-year-round production deploying Climate Smart Agricultural techniques, system of Crop intensification (SCI), using less chemical fertilizers, GAP( Good Agricultural Practice), and embracing Agricultural Biotechnology generally.