Group urges dredging River Niger to avert future flooding
ANAMBRA farmers are still counting the cost of the recent flood disasters that swept across some parts of the state, with a cluster of cooperative societies in Umuuzu, Ogbaru Local Government Area (LGA) estimating their total loss at about 70 hectares of rice farms.
Narrating their ordeal to newsmen in Awka yesterday, a resource person of the group and Director of Children of the Farmers Club, Christopher Okwuosa, listed cooperatives under the cluster, as Ikedi, Onyedikachi, Chioma, Chukwubuzo and Ofuobi societies.
According to him, about 420 tonnes of rice valued at over N18 million would have been due for harvest this month, but the entire farms were washed away by flood.
“Our cluster is made up of five cooperatives and has about 250 hectres to cultivate, but due to challenges which border on finance, we were only able to cultivate 70 hectares.
Now, these efforts have been washed away by the flood which hit Anambra in September, just two months to the time we are expected to harvest our rice produce and contribute to the national food programme.
We lost all these rice farms when the flood reached Umuuzu, a neighbouring community to Ihiala Local Government Area which was last to be submerged.
Our expected yield is about six tonnes per hectare, which is about 420 tonnes. This represents a huge shortage in local rice supply and total loss to the farmers with about N18 million involved,” Okwuosa said.
Meanwhile, the World Igbo Environment Foundation (WIEF) has called for an urgent dredging of River Niger and de-silting of water bodies to solve the perennial problem of flooding in coastal areas and contiguous communities.
Executive Director of WIEF, Dr Odili Ojukwu, made the call in an interview with newsmen in Awka yesterday, stressing that apart from mitigating the impact of flooding on the lives in affected communities and the national economy, dredging had immense potential for trade and industry.
It will be recalled that National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) recently tipped completely submerged 16 communities in Ogbaru and environs as the worst hit among nine LGAs ravaged flooding in Anambra this year.