The rice farmers at Ndokey village in Niani District, Central River Region (CRR) north have yesterday complained about the invasion of rice fields by hippos that are causing massive destructions at their low land agricultural fields.
The rice farmers, who, for several years have been lodging litany of similar complaints over hippopotamus in the region, have expressed their worry over hippos’ rampant destruction in recent times.
In an interview with The Point, Alkalo Eliman Njie of the villages said the destruction by the hippos to their rice fields was a terrifying situation for the village because the rice fields were previously affected by heavy flash flood which had submerged lots of rice.
“However, the little remaining rice at the fields has now been also ravaged by the hippos. This destruction pushed us to terrible challenges because even getting seedlings for the next season could be difficult, talk less of feedings,” he stated.
He pointed out that they have been experiencing hippos’ destruction in their rice fields but this year’s is has been the worst as 80% of the farms have been destroyed due to heavy downpour, monkeys and hippos incursion.
He explained that the frequent tampering of the rice fields is due to the high tidal this year. He said that due to the oversea level, it enable the hippos climb to travel to the fields for feeding.
He recommended for government to modernise the agricultural site to tidal irrigation or to dig a ditch between the river and the rice fields in order to prevent the hippos from climbing to their rice farms.
One Jalika Keita, a rice farmer, said the destruction of the rice fields became the community’s greatest concern as the hippos have destroyed her eight plots of rice where she spent lots of money including from clearing, ploughing and fertilizer application among others.
She asserted that the area is a potential rice growing area and they heavily depend on rice for feeding as well as for cash crop. She said such devastation could lead to difficulty for them.
She finally noted: “However, apart from agriculture, we don’t have any source of income to feed our families; thus if the hippos are discouraging us from rice cultivation then our future could be in mess.”
Mariama Jallow also a rice farmer said the hippos destroy all her family’s rice fields which she said was great devastation for them because they use the rice for feedings, school fees and other relevant matters.
“The nightmare became a terrifying, challenging for us since we put all our hopes on rice cultivation as our principal source of foods and revenue,” she said.
Mamadou Keita and Mariama Jallow both said the destruction causes numerous challenges for the affected families, noting that apart from agricultural activities, they do not have any other source of income. They posited that the hippos’ destruction has jeopardized their cropping season and appealed to concern authorities to come to their aid in order to tackle menace of hippos in the area.
They said hence the wild life department said the hippos should not be killed, then they should provide measures to address the situation because they are farmers and use the rice fields to sustain their families.
Author: Lamin S.M. Jawo in CRR