Delta Govt. laments as famer loses over N70m rice farm to flood Delta Delta Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Dr Godfrey Enita, on Thursday expressed concern over the extent of damage wrought by flood on rice farm in the state.
The commissioner spoke with newsmen after inspecting a 100 hectares rice farm taken over by flood at the Benin-Owena River Basin Authority in Ngegwu, Ajaji – Illah, Oshimili North Local Government Area of the state.
According to Enita, the damage to the rice farm is colossal, huge and massive.
“In fact, when the report got to me, I did not know that it was of this magnitude.
“When I first saw the video, most part of the farm was above the water but as you can see, more than 70 per cent of the entire rice farm land is under water.
“That tells you how massive the loss but I must commend the farmer, he is a dogged person because of his commitment.
“These are people the government should encourage, particularly for someone who had invest much and only to experience this huge loss due to flooding.
”Enita gave assurance that the state government would liaise with appropriate authorities to do what would be necessary to support the farmer to remain in business.
He noted that the magnitude of damage was enough to discourage the farmer if nothing was done to keep him afloat.
The commissioner said that the issues on how to secure the programme on food security would remain a national discuss.
He said that the issues of flooding had occupied the centre stage if the nation must sustain the policy on food security.
According to him, we are aware that dams will be opened and flooding will come but why something tangible has not been done to stem it over the years is what we cannot understand.
The commissioner said that as state government, there was nothing much that could be done to stop the flooding.
“But we will continue to support our farmers in all ways possible to give them hope and encourage them to stay in their businesses,” Enita said.
On his part, the Managing Director, Merrybell Rice Farm, Mr Felix Okonti, who lost 50 hectares (about 250 metric tonnes of rice) farm to the flood, said that his total loss was about N72 million.
According to Okonti, the total hectarage under the river basin land development is 100 hectares which was leased to the Delta State Government Ministry of Agriculture Assisted Rice production.
“Out of this, I own 50 hectares, and because we are mindful that there will be flood, we first planed planting faru 44, but due to delay in inputs, we opted for flood resistant variety, called Buga rice variety from Jos which we planted in this field.
“We did not envisage that the height of flood will be this high, normally, this variety is supposed to withstand the flood but this is not the situation.
“As you can see, it has covered all the plants and going by the average of five to seven tonnes of rice per hectare, the gravity of loss is colossal.
“It takes about 120 days (three months) for this variety to mature, and these have reached 72 days when the flood came and as you can see, there is nothing to salvage from the farm.
Okonti, who encouraged himself said that in spite of the loss he would venture into dry season rice farming from November.
“According to him, the farm is insured and give the current market price, the total loss is put at about N72 million.
He, however, advised the Federal Government, as the manager of river basins and inland waterways, to construct the needed dams along the River Basin to absorb the waters that cause havoc along the states in the area.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the commissioner in company of the Permanent Secretary, Mr Ben Agamah, Mr Okonti among others paddled on a canoe through the flooded rice farm to a certain the extent of damage.
No fewer than 900 youths and women have been enlisted to benefit from the Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprises in Niger Delta ( LIFE-ND) agriculture business programme in Delta.
The State Project Coordinator, LIFE-ND, Mr Collins Ashoro, disclosed this while addressing the beneficiaries at a -one- day orientation programme on Monday in Agbor, Ika South Local Government Area (LGA) of Delta.
He said that the project had empowered and graduated 320 youths and women in its first phase in four agriculture business areas of poultry, fishery, oil palm and cassava in Delta.
“LIFE-ND, a Federal Government initiated project in partnership with International Funds for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the states government, is focused on developing the Agricultural sector of the economy to reduce youth unemployment.
“The Project which was initially scheduled to be implemented in the nine Niger Delta States of Abia, Bayelsa, Cross Rivers, Delta, Edo, Ondo, Imo, Akwa Ibom and Rivers, is now effective only in the six IFAD funded states of Abia, Bayelsa, Cross Rivers, Delta, Edo and Ondo.
“I will like to inform you that LIFE-ND Project, whose goal is to transform the rural economy also has the objective of enhancing the income, food security and job creation of rural youth and women through agribusiness development on a sustainable basis in the Niger-Delta region of Nigeria.
“This engagement and training of the new 900 beneficiaries, is the second in the series since the commencement of the project in 2019 for the youth between ages 18 and 35 years who are not gainfully employed.
“Delta State LIFE-ND Project has empowered 320 youths and women in four agriculture businesses namely, poultry, fishery, oil palm and cassava in 58 incubation centres located in 52 communities in 10 participating LGA,” Ashoro said.
He said that the 900 beneficiaries were screened in their communities and were selected based on several criteria, adding that they would also be trained in four agriculture businesses of poultry, fishery, oil palm and cassava.
According to Ashoro, the orientation programme is staggered and taking place simultaneously at various locations in Ika South, Ika North East, Ndokwa West, Ndokwa East, Bomadi, Burutu, Uvwie, Sapele, Ughelli North, Ethiope East and Okpe LGAs in Delta.
“The LIFE-ND Project is special because it uses a unique implementation approach called Agribusiness Incubation Model, like the Igbo’s business strategy of Master-Servant Apprenticeship model employed in training and empowering the youths in the eastern part of Nigeria,” he said.
He lauded the Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa led government’s “SMART” Agenda Programme which robust agricultural policies has helped to bring prosperity to the people of the state, especially the youths.
He, therefore, encouraged the beneficiaries (incubators and incubatees) to take full advantage of the training to equip themselves with the necessary skills to become the next generation of Nigeria successful entrepreneurs.
“It is pertinent to mention that through the two major components and four sub-components of the projects, significant impacts have been made in the area of infrastructural development, input distribution and capacity building,” Ashoro said.
In his remarks, the Permanent Secretary, Delta State Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Mr Ben Agamah, said the design and implementation of LIFE-ND project was through the incubation model which is trainee-centered, service oriented and result based.
He lauded the state officials of the project, adding that the commencement of LIFE-ND Project by the state was a step in the right direction.
Agamah charged the beneficiaries to take the training serious and to consider it as a lifetime opportunity and to take full advantage of it by demonstrating the willingness to learn and capacity to grow.
“It is with pleasure that I am with you today on the occasion of the orientation training of this batch of incubators and incubatees; quickwin trainers and trainees of the Delta state LIFE-ND Project.
“As many of you are aware, entrepreneurship development and Job creation is at the core of His Excellency the governor, Sen. Ifeanyi Okowa’s SMART Agenda.
“The LIFE-ND project is sponsored to unlock and unleash youth entrepreneurship through the adoption of the Incubation Model in the value chains of four priority commodities in agriculture; Poultry, Fishery, Oil palm and Cassava,” Agamah said.
According to him, the strategy is to turn unemployed youths in the rural communities into entrepreneurs, leaders and managers that have high levels of personal responsibility and effectiveness.
“I am confident that you are the next generation of entrepreneurs the state is waiting for to help mitigate the problem of food security, job creation and income generation.
“As beneficiaries of the LIFE-ND Project, I charge you to be good ambassadors.
You must lead by examples and imbibe the virtues of discipline, focus, punctuality, hard work, and accountability that constitute the ingredients for success in life.”On their part, Ika South Council Chairman, Sunny Tatabuzogwu and Chairman, Delta Agricultural Development Agency, Dr Emmanuel Tidi lauded the project for its capacity to create jobs, wealth and development across the state.
Some of the beneficiaries lauded the sponsors and the state government for the training while pledging their commitment to the programme.
Mr Amos Iyare, a farmer, said he would be engaging in cassava value chain to deepen his income to care for his family.
“I thank the sponsors because anybody that supports me is my helper,” he said.
Mr Felix Okonti, the National President, National Cooperative for Commercial and Industrial Agriculture (NACCIA), says Delta has suitable ecology for growing special breed of rice.
Okonti said this during a courtesy visit on the Permanent Secretary, State Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Mr Ben Agamah, on Friday in Asaba.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Okonti had earlier conducted an inspection tour of the proposed rice cultivation site at Illah in Oshimili North Local Government Area of the state.
NAN also reports that Okonti had earlier in the week with the President of Grow Corp. Ltd and Thathrift Company Ltd. (ENOX Thailand), said the partnership with Delta State Government would boost rice production and job creation.
According to Okonti, the partnership is a perfect plan to tap into the robust ecology of the state and to grow Nigerian rice that will compete favourably with rice variants all over the world.
He said the visit was to showcase the special breed of rice which they intend to bring into the country.
Okonti said that Delta was chosen due to the suitability of the state’s ecology for the special breed of rice.
He also said that the rice growing project was fully supported by Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa led government and would be anchored in the state Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
He said that ENOX Thailand Company would be the leading company in the rice research and cultivation industry.
According to him, with the coming of the companies, rice growing will find a strong base in the state.
“NACCIA is premised on aggregating small holder farmers, who farm on a subsistence scale into clusters to enable them own farms.
“The initiative is a long-term project; it will also provide employment opportunities for the populace. Farmers will be supervised, trained and given input, quality seeds, fertiliser and mechanisation.
“We are lifting hundreds of thousands of persons out of poverty, impacting them with skills and they will become very useful to themselves,” he said.
In her remarks, Halimatu Ali, President, Grow Corp. Ltd and representative of ENOX Thailand Company, said that the company was considering the species of rice that would take only 95 days from planting to harvesting.
According to her, this will go a long way in providing enough high breed quality rice for the Delta state market and beyond.
Responding, Agamah said that the state has a robust ecology for agriculture and good enough for rice cultivation.
He said that the initiative was one that was dear to the heart of Gov. Okowa, who was particularly happy about the rice project in the state.
“We have wetland and a hinterland that is good for rice production. Delta State is the pride of Nigeria as you have the opportunity of knowing the whole of Nigeria exist here in the state.