Agriculture experts in Benin say the destruction to crops - some farmers losing 100 percent - will hit families hard for a long time to come
DAKAR, 8 November 2010 (IRIN) - Relief agencies and the government of Benin have appealed for US$46.8 million to help the West African nation recover from the worst flooding in nearly 50 years: Agricultural experts have warned of huge damage to land and livelihoods in rural communities.
“We are talking of farmers losing 100 percent of their crops,” warned Saïd Hounkponou, head of Benin NGO Initiatives pour un Dévéloppement Intégré Durable (IDID). “When you have fields of maize, manioc and other crops flooded to that degree, there is nothing left to harvest.”
Jacques Djima Bonou, secretary-general of the Féderation des Unions de Producteurs de Bénin (FUPRO) said FUPRO’s recent assembly in Bohican had canvassed farmers on their individual losses. “Of course there has been flooding in the past, but nothing like what farmers have been exposed to this year,” Bonou told IRIN.
“In the north there are hundreds of fields of maize that have been lost and hundreds of fields of yams. The cotton crop has also been badly damaged. The rains are continuing and it is too early to say how much has been lost.”
Hounkponou said the scale of the flooding caught communities completely off-guard, even in areas where there is a long history of dealing with floods. “Take the Ouémé river valley, for example. Here people are used to the river swelling and then receding, and adapt their planting techniques accordingly. But this year the flooding was far stronger and their fields were washed away.” …