By CrossRiverWatch admin
Over three hundred hectares of cocoa farms in Obudu Local Government have been invaded by caterpillars popularly known as ‘Okiro’ insects.
The insects, which were in multitude ate up the leaves of cocoa and infested the pods as well as other economic trees such as plums, bush mango, kolanuts and avocado.
The invasion, which started about a month ago in Okiro axis of Obudu has spread to other communities including Okweriseng and Ofambe and some neighbouring local government areas of Boki, Ogoja, Bekwarra, Obanliku and Ikom.
The phenomenon has affected over two thousand farmers and their families who are languishing in poverty and hunger with no hope of resuscitation within a short period of time.
Assessing the disaster, the Director General, State Emergency Management Agency SEMA, Mr, John Inaku, said that government would promptly intervene on the disaster caused by the caterpillars.
Mr. Inaku who expressed shock at the enormity of the disaster said government would urgently step in to aid victims by providing succour.
He said he would promptly communicate the ugly development to the State Governor and some relevant disaster stakeholders such as the National Emergency Management Agency NEMA and the Ministry of Agriculture to scientifically work out modalities on how to stop the spread.
The Community Relations Officer CRO for Obudu, Mr. Emmanuel Akwagiobe who was also on the assessment tour noted that the affected communities are major producers of cash and food crops in Obudu adding that the destruction has both short and long-term consequences.
Speaking on behalf of the affected communities, the Secretary of Ubang Traditional Rulers Council, Chief Oliver Ebang thanked SEMA for visiting their affected farms and appealed for urgent intervention.
He said the ravaging of the crops has caused him great economic losses amounting to about five million naira and that he can no longer fend for his family.
Also lamenting the ravage, another victim, Mr. Ayine Sylvester Ofre, said he lost several hectares of cocoa including pears, avocado and yams.
On his part, Mr. Roland Atsu said that life would be difficult, as he has lost all his cash crops to the caterpillars.
Considering the magnitude of the disaster, farmers are expressing fears of uncontrollable invasion if actions were not expedited by relevant authorities to checkmate the spread as poverty, hunger, and diseases were imminent.
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