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Rice blast destroys farmlands in Gombe

Rice blast, a disease known for destroying rice, has affected many rice farms at the Upper Benue irrigation area in Dadin Kowa, Gombe State thereby dropping rice yield in the irrigation rice farming season just ending in the area. Rice farmers in the state said they have recorded a lot of losses.

The farmers, who were seen hanging helplessly around their farms, lamented that most of them may not even be able to harvest anything from their farms due to the extent of destruction by the rice disease and called on the federal government to come to their aid to enable them to embark on rain fed farming.
When this correspondent visited the irrigation area at Dadin Kowa, one of the rice farmers in the area, Malam Bello Ibrahim, said his four hectares rice farm was affected by the blast thereby denying him the 27 bags of rice he usually harvested from the farm. Bello said the rice blast disease mostly affect the stem, leaf and the seed formation of the rice rendering the crop useless and where it survived, a farmer will harvest only grass.

About 20 hectares of the 77 hectares of the Dadin Kowa Upper Benue irrigation farmlandis already affected by the disease, with severe outbreak of leaf blast causes stunting and the development of small panicles and early infection of neck nodes causing white head and yield loss on rice plants.
“A disease cycle begins when a blast spore infects and produces a lesion on the rice plant and ends when the fungus populates repeatedly for about 20 days and disperses many new airborne spores,” Bello said. He said they are spraying fungicide which is expensive and beyond the reach of many of the farmers.
Haruna Ali said with the size of his farm, he is expecting to harvest not less than 27 bags of rice but that with what is happening as a result of the rice blast disease, which has affected more than half of his farm, he might end up with not more than four bags. He said some farmers have even vacated the area because of the diseases as most of them cannot afford to buy the chemical to control the disease.
Bala Mohammed is another farmer whose rice farm was affected by the disease. He said last year he harvested 12 bags of rice on the farm but it appears that this year he may go home with only about 50kgs of rice.

Malam Tukur, a farmer, told our correspondent that he had to abandon farming for this year because his farm was totally destroyed by the rice blast disease. He said with a good harvest, he gets not less than 13 bags of rice from the farm but the disease has destroyed everything, adding that he cannot afford to buy the chemical to control the disease.

May 29, 2014, Source: http://dailytrust.info



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