The raging flood that has ravaged most parts of Nigeria, has claimed the lives over 600 people, displaced over two million, and destroyed nearly 110,000 hectares of farmland.
This is happening when the country’s insecurity has brought about food crisis and just as harsh economic conditions keep biting harder, with food inflation year-on-year hitting 23.3 percent in September.
It’s is also coming amid the Federal Government’s restriction on the importation of rice which was aimed at increasing local production and self-sufficiency.
From the start of last year, the prices of rice, maize and wheat had increased by 50 percent due to fertiliser shortage and rising price of diesel and fuel. However, the recent flooding is expected to further inflate the prices than normal.
Food stuffs are left stranded or later spoil as the roads linking communities and states where the foods items are usually transported through, have become inaccessible due to the huge flood.
Also, crops and farmlands where they are produced have been washed away, leaving many farmers losing their source of income and livelihood.
This has in turn, led to scarcity of food and and hike in prices of the available but scarce food stuffs which is already worsening the already aggravated hunger and poverty in the country.
Livestock is also affected by the flood as Innocent Aluu in Bayelsa said he lost nearly 10,000 fowls, estimated at N30 million, in his poultry farm to waterborne diseases. He said, “I feel like running away, nobody can think straight
Traders now resort to transporting the goods they have left using motorbikes which is riskier and more costly than using a car or bus. Others resort to using wheel-barrows, if the distance they are transporting their goods to isn’t that far, although they run the risk of being swept away by the flood.
Finding reveal that the fewer number of trucks now transport food items to Lagos from the north, which has aggravated the scarcity of food items and surged the prices.
Umaru Usman, at Kara market along the Lagos-Ibadan expressway disclosed that a bag of maize that cost about N15,000, now sells at N29,000.
“Everything here now is costly. Tomatoes are not coming as they used to be. At Kara here, many of the trucks we were expecting could not really come since the flood started. The flood is not only affecting the North, even here, we are facing the challenges,” Usman said.
Counting his losses, Emmanuel Ahiakwo, a farmer in Rivers State said, “I lost over 10 hectares of farmland to flooding and this adversely affected food supplies to Port Harcourt and other neighbouring communities in the state.
Another farmer in Rivers said, “It’s a very bad time for commercial farmers like us who are into big time farming. I have a very big pineapple and plantain farm, which I supply to my customers in Port Harcourt. Our farm was destroyed by flood and this affected our businesses. The supply chain has been lost and we are finding it very difficult to cope with the situation.”
Transporters of food items from Kano to Lagos have adopted a time consuming option. According to Alhaji Abubakar Danliti, “Our trucks now follow through Niger Republic to Benin Republic and enter Lagos through the Seme border. It is very far but we do not have an option. We can’t allow them to follow the usual routes now because it is dangerous and takes longer than necessary. However, the price of the commodity has been seriously affected as it has increased by about 300 per cent.”
A farmer and youth leader representing Uzere under Isoko National Youth Assembly, Alex Emezana, said, “We survive on our farm produce but the water has destroyed everything. It’s a very serious one. It happens every year.
“Everyone is stranded. Fish farmers have lost their fishes. Poultry farmers have lost their birds. Even the fishermen are bereft of ideas on how to fish because the water current has made it difficult for them to make good catches. Crop farmers are the worst of all. Cassava, yam and others have been submerged and we have not harvested anything. This will lead to food scarcity next year,” he lamented.
Managing Director of the Seyi Oduntan Farms Limited, Gbemi Oduntan, said, ““A lot of rice farmers have lost all their farms because it happened at a time they were about to harvest. He said, “Everybody is aware that there is a lot of flooding and we know it is going to affect food security.”
Vice Chairman, All Farmers Association Of Nigeria (AFAN), Otunba Femi Oke noted that the recent floods would lead to a spike in grains and therefore urged consumers to expect price increases due to the extreme flooding that has damaged rice crops, and also threatened grain supply.
President Muhammadu Buhari had already approved the release of 12,000 metric tons of assorted grains from a national strategic reserve stock, but farmers however say it will be insufficient, considering the gravity of the destruction caused by the flood.
Although climate change, poor planning and release of excessive water from dams have been blamed for the devastation, metereologists have warned that the flooding may persist until late November.
Information Nigeria calls on government at all levels to urgently intervene in the flood crisis in the country, as not doing so, will further expand the poverty net of the country which international reports already say is the poverty capital of the world.
The poverty and hunger will also throw more people into criminality which the country has been finding it so difficult to solve. Nigeria is already ranked the second most terrorised country in the world, mostly caused by extreme poverty and hunger.