Experts, stakeholders recommend flood-control tips to save nation’s agricultural produce – NAN Survey Experts, stakeholders recommend flood-control tips to save nation’s agricultural produce – NAN Survey Flood By Reporters Umuahia, Sept. 19, 2023 Experts in environmental matters and farmers have expressed worry over the current wave of flooding in different parts of the country and its effects on agricultural produce.
In a survey conducted by the News Agency of Nigeria in the South-East, they offered some tips to checkmate the phenomenon and avert poor crop yields and food shortage.
Speaking on the issue, Prof. Christian Madu, a Professor of Environmental Management and Control, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, said that flood washes away soil nutrients, thus leading to poor farm yeilds.
Madu also told NAN in Enugu that flood, most times, destroys crops, such as yam, cassava and rice by washing them away or burying them beneath the sand.
He identified causes of flooding as blockage of the waterways of the rivers and streams in an area, poor topography and inadequate drainage system, amongst others.
He opined that the problem could be effectively tackled through awareness creation among farmers on the dangers of flooding, especially on agricultural produce.
He further recommended that farmers should be encouraged to take proactive measures to reduce flooding that could destroy their farmlands and investment.
He said: “Residents should ensure that waterways are protected, especially by removing non-degradable materials, such as plastics, to ensure free-flow of rain water.
“Encouraging urban sustainability both in town planning and development of structures to ensure that waterways are not blocked.
“Government at all levels should encourage tree planting to hold up the soil from being washed away.
” He also advised farmers to desist from farming on flood planes and lowlands to check yearly or recurring flooding on farmlands.
Contributing, the Coordinator of National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in the South-East, Mr Thickman Tanimu, reinforced the recommendation further.
He said that flooding could be contained through continuous advocacy and sensitisation of farmers on ways and means to checkmate the menace.
Tanimu said that the agency had moved from reactionary to proactive emergency and disaster management measures.
He said that the Federal Government had mandated the agency to carry out a comprehensive assessment of all agrarian communities affected by flooding recently to see how it can provide some succour to them.
“The Federal Government through the agency will continue to carry out sensitisation for farmers for them to plant in safe places and avoid flood plains and lowlands during cultivation.
“We will also impress on our stakeholders and state emergency management agencies and local governments to do the same advocacy.
“The advocacy or sensitisation will not be stopped until our people (farmers) start taking the right precautions to check avoidable farm losses,” Tanimu said.
Also, Mr Anayochi Njoku, a retired Programme Manager at the Imo State Agricultural Development Programme, said that flooding disrupts the soil surface and leads to loss of nutrients and reduction in yields.
Njoke lamented that some farmers usually found it difficult to repay agricultural loans after losing their produce to flood.
He further said that large scale fish farmers also suffer huge losses when flood overflows embankments causing the fishes to escape.
He said, “A lot of farmers have been forced out of business because of monumental losses caused by flood.
” He said that huge losses of farm produce to flood usually lead to shortage in food supply with the concomitant hike in the price of the available ones.
Similarly, a yam farmer in the state, Mr Udochukwu Agu, said the effects of flooding on agricultural produce depended on the timing of the disaster.
According to Agu, flooding at the begining of the planting season, when the yams have just been planted, can lead to total damage to the crops, giving way to poor yield.
He said, however, said that the effect could be minimal if flooding happened in the middle of the farming season toward the harvest period.
He opined that the situation could be salvaged, “if proper damage control is applied, regardless of the timing of the floods”.
He recommended the application of appropriate fertilisers and mulching to counter the effects of floods.
“Floods generally reduce the marketability of our yields but when we take appropriate measures we are sometimes able to save the situation.
“Such measures increase the cost of production and prices in the end but it is necessary,” Agu said.
In Abia, Dr Sunday Jackson, the Executive Secretary of SEMA, said that flooding impacts negatively on agricultural produce.
Jackson said that the state had become flood prone due to climate change and high rainfall every rainy season.
Jackson said that the frequency and intensity of the flood had resulted in loss of lives, property and people’s means of livelihood, including farmlands.
He said that 45 communities had reported cases of flooding, while 14 of the 17 Local Government Areas were already affected.
A farmer, Mr Ikenna Onyemachi, called for urgent government assistance to cushion the effects of flooding.
“This year’s rain is destroying our crops and we fear that we might not have much harvest this year.
“It has been raining incessantly since the beginning of September and this has not been favourable to us because our farms are being flooded,” he said.
The Programme Manager, Anambra Agricultural Development Programme, Mr Jude Nwankwo, said that perennial flooding and its devastation on farming could be checked with dams in riverine communities of the state.
Nwankwo regretted that every year, farmers in the riverine communities of Anambra East, Anambra West, Ogbaru and Awka North Local Government Areas were being compelled to harvest their crops prematurely due to massive flooding.
He blamed the unwholesome development on the lack of control on the inflow of waters into the farmlands.
He said, “If there were dams, the operators would know how best to control the waters.
” Nwankwo argued that the negative effects of flooding has impeded the growth of agricultural activities, especially in riverine communities.
He further said that victims of flooding often complained of colossal losses and the difficulties they usually encountered going back to business.
The President, Civil Servants in Agriculture in Anambra, Mr Donatus Orjinta, described the negative effects of flooding on agriculture as obvious and multiple.
Orjinta said that some members of his cooperative group had recorded huge losses due to the effects of flooding on their farms.
He said that it was regrettable that most victims in the state were abandoned to their fate, pointing out that the situation had forced many out of farming.
He, therefore, appealed to NEMA, Anambra SEMA and other relevant institutions to come to the aid of flood victims, especially farmers, in the state.
A don, Prof. Christian Madu, has advocated for the reduction on the use of chemical fertilizer, otherwise known as inorganic fertilizers, on farmlands.
Madu, a Professor of Environmental Management and Control, made the call on Saturday in Enugu while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria on current issues affecting farming in the country.
According to him, chemical fertilizers kill the natural microbes that rebuild the soil.
“Chemical fertilizers also leave the soil bare and defenceless to sustain and quickly support new plantings,” he said.
Madu, with the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), said that the world was turning to organic fertilizer grown farm produce as well as chemical-free edibles.
He called on government and policy makers to direct Nigerians that have much to do with the environment, especially farmers aright on best and acceptable universal practices for the benefit of the citizenry.
The don said that government policies and direction must go in line with the realities of climate change currently being faced in the world.
“The government also needs to embark on policies that are cognizance of today’s reality on climate change and ensure that such policies are implemented,” he said.
He also called for conscious efforts to remove non-degradable materials, such as nylon and plastic, from the surface of the soil as well.
Stakeholders in the education sector have described the recent lowering of cut off mark by the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) for the 2022 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Exam (UTME) as “retrogressive and unhealthy”.The stakeholders from the South East said this in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria while reacting to JAMB recent pronouncements on the 2022 cut off mark for tertiary institutions.NAN reports that the 20222023 UTME cut-off mark for universities in Nigeria is 140 and above, for polytechnics and monotechnics is 120 and above and for colleges of education is 100 and above depending on the school of choice and course of study.In Imo, an Assistant Lecturer at the Department of Biochemistry, Federal University of Technology Owerri, Mrs. Ogedi Ugwu, said the continuous reduction of cut-off marks would lead to poor performance in tertiary education.Ugwu said the UTME served as a tool to assess the preparedness of students for tertiary education.She said their performance in basic subject areas would go a long way in identifying the courses they were best suited for and how well they would perform in those courses.She noted that if the cut-off marks continued to reduce, the quality of undergraduates admitted to Nigerian tertiary institutions would be severely compromised.“The UTME is a tool used to assess students’ preparedness for tertiary education through an average score in basic subjects areas.“Therefore, if UTME cut-off mark continues to decrease, it will reduce the quality of undergraduates admitted to Nigerian universities.“This will result in a poor learning outcome and performance in tertiary education,” she said.Also contributing, Mr Cyril Ofoegbu of the Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu University, Igbariam, described the downward trend in UTME cut-off marks as “appalling”.Ofoegbu said this could further lead to the fall in standard of education in the country as it would discourage students from studying in preparedness for higher education.“UTME started falling from 200, to 190, to 180, to 170, to 160 last year.This year, it went down to 140, and maybe next year, it will further go down to 130. “Soon, you just simply buy form and then you get admitted, into the university.“The National Universities Commission (NUC) should rather raise the standards above 200. Anyone who cannot attain the mark is not fit to study in the university,” Ofoegbu advised.A University Lecturer in Enugu State, Prof. Christian Madu, also said the approved lower cut off marks for students seeking admission in Nigeria tertiary institutions would lower the standard of education in the country.Madu, who is of the Environmental Management and Control Department, University of Nigeria said that the educational standard would be affected if something was not done to accommodate the students with low grade.The don said that schools that had students with low grades could groom them, especially in the subject areas they did not do quite well in their UTME so as to be at par with those with high grade.He said that if they were not groomed to meet up with the bright students, they might end up dropping from the institutions, especially after their first year in the institutions.Mrs Jacintha Nweke, an educationist said that the government should allow individual tertiary institution to decide its cut off mark as this would make students who were preparing for UTME to sit up.Nweke said that she was very sure that no university would adopt the cut off marks announced by the government, adding that it would further degrade the low standard of the Nigeria education system.Prof Ifeanyichukwu Abada of the Department of Political Science, UNN, urged the Federal Government to act fast to improve funding and give required attention to education sector in the country.He recalled that there was a time JAMB cut off mark for universities was 250 and today was lowered to 140. “Instead of Education sector going forward, it is moving backward; it’s retrogressive, unfortunate and an unhealthy development.“If nothing serious is done to arrest this ugly development in education sector, by the next three years, cut off mark for universities will be 80 and polytechnics 50,” he said.Mr George Akubue, a Lecturer at the Institute of African Studies, UNN, said the development was a dangerous indication of serious decline in the standard of education.“Federal, state and local governments should see this as a big challenge to improve funding of education in the three tiers of government before the situation gets out of hand,” he said.In Anambra, Prof Anthony Eze of the Faculty of Education, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, said that efforts should be made at enhancing teaching to enable students meet up with the standard instead of lowering it to accommodate their capacity.He said that rather than making university an all comers affair, those who lacked the intellectual capacity to access that level of education should be encouraged to go for vocational and other informal systems of education.According to him, reducing cut off marks is ill advised, it will affect the standard of education adversely.“There is no justification for lowering the cut off mark from between 250 and 300 to as low as 120; it signals a general drop in our university education standard.“University is not for everybody, those who don’t have the capacity to meet up should be encouraged to go for vocational training,” he said.Also speaking, Mrs Jane Nwoko, a parent and secondary school teacher said managers of the Nigerian education sector should not collapse the system because they wanted to accommodate everybody.According to her, though it will help more students to gain admission into higher institutions, the implication is that the quality of learning and graduates will be reduced.She called for better funding and supervision of post primary education to make them meet up with the curriculum.A cross section of academics in Ebonyi, said that the adverse effect of continuous lowering of UTME cut-off mark into tertiary institutions would be devastating to education development of the country.Mr Ejike Okoro, an educationist , said the NUC should introduce better things in the system rather than continuous lowering of the cut off mark.“We are most worried towards standard of learning, structures, educational materials, libraries among others,” Okoro said.NewsSourceCredit: NAN
One don, Professor Christian Madu, says the nation's vegetation and trees are paying dearly for the high cost of kerosene and cooking gas as millions struggle to survive.
Madu, who is Professor of Environmental Management and Control at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), revealed this to the Nigerian News Agency in Enugu on Saturday.
He pointed out that the current development was eroding all the gains made by the country over decades in ensuring that its people subscribed to the use of clean energy for both industrial and domestic purposes.
The don said that as it stands, environmental concerns have taken a backseat and the country's commitment to join the international community in using clean energy was fading.
He said that rising prices for kerosene and cooking gas had made most of the poor masses switch to firewood across the country.
He said: “The high cost of kerosene and, in particular, cooking gas affects the cost of production.
“This has affected the cost of all other basic products.
Also, with the increasing volatility in the value of the naira, people are now struggling to survive.
“There will be more emphasis on food, health and housing and there will be less interest in protecting the environment.
"The locals are already resorting to the use of firewood and this distances us from all the campaign and awareness that many of us have carried out to encourage the transition to the use of natural gas as a cleaner energy alternative." The don lamented that until now, most Nigerians had subscribed to clean energy use and enjoyed its benefits; but now “we are having a setback”.
“I think there is a loss of confidence in the system.
Many people who accepted the campaign to use gas for cooking invested in cylinders and stoves.
“They are disappointed and still have abandoned and packed up those units.
"We can get them back, but we need to rebuild their confidence and ensure stable cooking gas (and kerosene) prices," Madu added.
NAN reports that a liter of kerosene is sold for between N750 and N800 at service stations; while a kilogram of cooking gas is sold for between N850 and N900 at cooking gas stations in most parts of the country.
As the rain intensify across the country, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and other stakeholders have advised residents of flood prone communities in the South East to embark on preventive measures for safety of lives and property in the zone.
The agency made the call while responding to a News Agency of Nigeria survey on Challenges of Flooding during rainfall.
NAN reports that some states in the South East Zone of Nigeria experience perennial flooding during rainy seasons which threatens lives and the economy of the country hence the survey.
Some of the stakeholders who spoke to the agency maintained that flood posed disaster risk not only to prone areas but the nation’s economic development.
The Acting Head of NEMA, Operations Office, Mr Ifeanyi Nnaji, advised affected communities to always monitor sea level in their areas.
He said the Disaster Risk Management Implication of the 2022 flood prediction by NEMA through the Seasonal Climate Prediction (SCP) will soon be released to help prepare the society for emergency.
“The Annual Flood Outlook (AFO) and the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) gives the organization effective planning of weather-related disaster management in Nigeria,” he said.
Nnaji further advised the public to desist from indiscriminate disposal of waste in or around water channels.
According to him, such habit hinders the free passage of rain water, hence causing the overflow of rain water beyond boundaries to damaging proportions.
Also, the Executive Secretary of Imo State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Mrs Agnes Ajoku, expressed concern over the negative impact of flood on the society.
She said if not properly managed, flood effect could cause shortage of food, ecological disaster and even loss of lives and property.
“In 2018, Imo experienced one of the greatest flooding in the history of the state, which left many people homeless, while some lost their lives to the flood.
“Since flooding in most cases is a natural disaster, there is the need for both government and the people to take strict measures to prevent heavy effect of flooding.
“One of the ways is for citizens to stop the habit of blocking drainage system centrally built to checkmate flood with waste,” she said.
She also advised against building on water ways, adding that such structures built on the water ways are potential disaster.
A Director in the Ministry of Environment, Dr Clement Anyawu, said government should consider demolishing all buildings around water ways.
Anyawu said the ministry had studied Federal Government prediction for the 2022 flood outlook, adding that necessary actions had been taken to address the issue.
He appealed to residents in the flood prone communities to always adhere to early warning measures stipulated by relevant agencies.
In Abia, the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) said that 45 communities in 14 local government areas of the state were currently being ravaged by flooding.
The Executive Secretary of the agency, Dr Sunday Jackson, told NAN that the state had already begun to experience high rainfall, in line with the 2022 Seasonal Climate Prediction by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency.
He further said that the Annual Flood Outlook Prediction by the Nigerian Hydrological Services Agency also shows that Abia, was one of the highly probable flood risk states in the country.
He explained that climate change and the attendant high rainfall had turned the state into one of the “flood disaster prone states” in the federation, especially during the rainy season.
He said that the agency had put some strategic measures in place to mitigate the phenomenon which, according to him, has increased in frequency and intensity.
The SEMA boss described the magnitude of the menace as “overwhelming and beyond the capacity of the State Government”.
He said that the development had resulted in the loss of many lives, displacement of many households in the affected communities as well as the destruction of their means of livelihood and valuable property.
Jackson, therefore, called for urgent assistance from the federal government to cushion the impact of the disaster on victims.
In Enugu State, NEMA says it has started collaboration with disaster stakeholders to take sensitisation on flood early warning and mitigation to council areas and high-risk communities in the state.
South-East Coordinator of NEMA, Mr Tickman Tanimo, said for two months the agency had collaborated with Enugu State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Red Cross and its NEMA-NYSC Community Development Service corps members to hold sensitisation in communities in Enugu North Local Government Area.
Tanimo said that the agency and its stakeholders started early after receiving the 2022 Flood Prediction of Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) and the need to check annual flash flood within Enugu metropolis that destroyed property and threatened lives.
According to him, although from NIHSA, Enugu State was not put on the red flag states for flooding but four council areas: Awgu, Ezeagu, Oji River and Uzo-Uwani are placed as Probably Flood Risk areas.
He explained that the major flood challenge the state faced was the annual flash flood within the metropolis, which might be attributed to human negative activities on the environment especially on drains and waterways.
“Government, NEMA and SEMA cannot do it alone; we need individuals, neighbourhoods, communities and council areas to play their own part.
“We have started with Enugu North council to sensitise every one even the council authorities on opening up drainages in streets, neighbourhoods and entire council area.
“I have also met with the chairman of Enugu South council area and we will be moving to that council area soon and after that our massive sensitisation train will move to Enugu East council area to ensure flash flood is checked in the metropolis.
“What we are saying is that individuals and neighbourhoods should open up all drains; while council authorities should open up bigger secondary water drains and waterways in the council areas.
“Everybody has a duty of checking negative attitudes of residents blocking drainages and waterways with refuse or with structures as these negative attitudes affect majority of residents of a council area when flash flood occurs,” he said.
Contributing, Prof. Christian Madu, a Professor of Environmental Management and Control, noted that there was a need for continuous awareness and engagement to change negative environmental attitudes and get people prepared to take proactive actions against flooding.
Madu, who is with the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), also tasked NIHSA, NEMA, SEMA and other stakeholders on developing early warning signals that are culturally oriented which the local people could easily relate with.
According to him, until the five South-East governments develop stringent laws to protect against building on waterways and punish offenders appropriately, those in the habit will continue to cause untold hardship for an entire neighbourhood.
“All sensitisation and education to clean up or open the drains should be done in local language to ensure that the message and consequences of flooding is well understood by majority of the locals.
“Traditional, religious, opinion leaders and teachers should be carried along in sensitisation programmes against flooding so that even after the sensitisation they, on their own, would continue to resonate the message to their people,” he added.
Meanwhile, stakeholders in the Ebonyi social sector have hailed the improvement made so far by relevant stakeholders in checking the menace of flooding in the state.
The stakeholders, who spoke to NAN in Abakaliki, said that the provision of relevant infrastructure had helped in proper channeling of water from rains which hitherto caused flooding.
Mrs Rose Akpa, a farmer in Abakaliki, said that the construction of large drainages across the state capital and other parts of the state have led to the drastic reduction of flooding in the state.
“We used to record submerging of houses, farmlands among other property during the rainy season but such incidences rarely occur presently.
“Adequate drainages have been constructed along strategic waterways which have effectively channelled water from the rain to the Ebonyi river, ” she said.
Mr Tim Uketu, Chief Executive of Global Environmental Forum, a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO), said that the citizens are encouragingly imbibing the message of keeping drainages free from dirt.
“This has helped tremendously in easing flood paths to prevent the submerging and destructions of property,” he said.
An official of the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Programme (NEWMAP), who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that it would complete all drainage projects being constructed across the state.
“The citizens have been cooperating with us and the drainages already put into use have helped in reducing flooding in the state,” he said.