ARGUNGU – Farmers in northern Nigeria have lost more than two million tons of rice, a quarter of the country’s projected harvest, due to flooding. Despite the loss, Nigeria is so far upholding a year-long ban on land-based imports of rice to crack down on smuggling and boost local production.
Ibrahim Adullahi is looking at what remains of his 350-hectare rice farm in Nigeria’s Kebbi state.Abdullahi was expecting a harvest of 600 tons of rice, but weeks of severe flooding means he will be lucky to get 100.
“Since when I started farming, I have never experienced intensive cultivation of rice like now, because a lot of people are into the rice farming. But unfortunately, we experienced this intensive flooding that we are still experiencing now, and farmers are now counting losses because 90 percent of our farmers have lost what they have cultivated,” he said.
Nigeria’s biggest rice producing state, Kebbi, had projected 2.5 million tons this year.
But heavy September rains washed away two million tons. Local rice miller Mohammad Anuana said this could cause a further jump in the price of the grain.
“If rain has already washed away all the farm product, you know the goods will be rising up (in price) because the little one they have on ground – they will make sure they recover (the value of) the one that the water moves away. And, so they’ll double the price,” he said.
With Africa’s largest population, Nigeria annually imports billions of dollars of rice and wheat. But the country hopes to become self-sufficient.
Last year, the government banned land-based rice imports to crack down on smuggling and boost local rice production.
Despite the lost rice, the Nigerian officials say the ban will remain in place.
Chairman of the All Farmers Association in Nigeria John Wuyep said affected farmers will be compensated.
“The government and even the financial institutions have a machinery in force. So many who have lost now are already preparing for the dry season farming,” he said.
Nigeria’s farmers association says better groundwork is needed to prevent flooding and have a steady water supply during the dry season.
Flood reduction would also help save homes and the displacement of thousands of Nigerians from overflowing rivers.