Thursday, 19 March 2020

Fire destroys economic crops worth millions of naira in Boki, Hunger strikes families of affected victims

19 March 2020 

Fire incident has destroyed economic crops worth millions of naira in Cross River communities of Agba, Bansan, and Obubra in Boki local government area of state.

The mysterious fire incident, destroyed economic crops such as cocoa, plantain, banana, oil palm trees, bush mango and avocado peer, in an area span of over 1,000 hectares which covers the three communities at the popular "Okem".

Village Head of Agba 2 community, Mr Patrick Ekpang, who conducted News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Correspondent around the disaster area, said the incident had caused hunger in the affected communities.

Ekpang told NAN that over 200 farmers were affected in the fire incident, adding that the victims had become jobless in their communities and without food to feed their families.

"As you can see, the entire farming forest have been destroyed by fire. We woke up one morning to hear that fire has gutted the entire farmlands involving three communities.

"We all rushed to the area, but before we could put off the fire, our economic trees have all been destroyed. Before the incident, some cocoa and oil palm farmers were preparing for harvest before the fire struck.

"We have lost millions of naira and now, some of our youths who also own large farmlands have become jobless in their own communities.

"We are appealing to the National Emergency Management Agency, Cross River State Emergency Management Agency, Office of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management including corporate organisations and individuals to come to our aid.

"We need food and financial assistance to help us procure more nursery and inputs to start a fresh planting ahead of the rainy season", he said.

Mr Hilary Bisong, the House of Assembly member representing Boki 2, who incidentally is from Agba community, called on the state and Federal Government to provide relief materials and financial assistance to the victims.

Another victim, Mr Stephen Asu, told NAN that the tragic incident had caused poverty on the side of the victims.

He said that a majority of them took soft loans from microfinance bank to invest in cocoa plantations, lamenting that with the incident at hand, many of them won't be able to repay the debt.

"We have become beggers in our own communities. Uptil now, we don't know the immediate cause of the fire incident that has damaged our economic trees and rendered us jobless and hungry", he said.

For Mr Peter Agbor, who said the fire incident started from his farm, lamented that his 20 hectares of cocoa, oil palm trees and avocado trees all got burnt.

"For me, I have four children; I dont have any other occupation apart from farming. There is serious hunger in my house now because I can no longer harvest my crops for sale and the one we consume at home", he said.

Other victims, Mr Paul Eban from Bansan and Mr Denis Akan from Obubra communities, also appealed to the SEMA and NEMA to come to their aid.

Mr Princewill Ayim, Director General of Cross River State Emergency Management Agency, confirmed that the incident had been reported to the agency.

Ayim told NAN that the agency had taken assessment on the extent of damage caused by the fire incident.

He said the that SEMA had written a letter of notification to the Zonal office of NEMA with a view to help the victims with relief materials.

"We are still in the dry season, I want to advise farmers in the rural areas to stop the burning of bushes within this period.

"I sympathise with the affected victims because I know the hardship that has befallen them. We hope that relevant agencies will intervene swiftly to ameliorate their plight", he said.

Source: George Odok Jnr 

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