The proliferation of an invasive weed known as typha grass, is threatening the agricultural ecology of the Kumadugu Yobe Basin wetland in Jigawa State. The weed hinders crop production, fishing activities and destroys grazing fields.
The typha grass covers 365sq km of land across six local government areas of the state, thereby limiting farming to only about 40 per cent of the land because it makes flow of water in the affected farmlands impossible.
Our reporter observed that the blockage of water by the weed upstream in the affected areas led to the stagnation of water in the fields which makes farming impossible.
This also causes the other communities along the water way of the wetland basin to suffer lack of water.
Typha grass, which grows luxuriously across Miga, Kaugama, Auyo, Kirikisima, Guri and Birniwa local government areas of Jigawa State, competes with food crops for water, sunlight, air, space and nutrients.
The invasive weed can outgrow the main crop owing to its aggressive ability which affects yield. The weed is generally referred to as “kachalla” by the locals.
It was hitherto a seasonal problem but the farmers have learnt to live with it because the weed has become an all-season phenomenon.
Some farmers who spoke with Daily Trust said the widespread appearance of the weed might not be unconnected with the change in the water regime following the construction of water reservoirs and dams in the country.
The weed, which is a deep rooted grass, is commonly found in swampy areas like the one that developed along the wetland valley
Umar Iguda, a farmer in Guri, told this reporter that typha grass was noticed in the affected areas as far back as the 60s. The insinuation in some quarters that it was introduced by colonial masters may not be true.
He added that prior to the construction of dams in the 70s, majority of the locals did not know about the existence of the grass because it could not survive drought for more than three months.
“Communities in Kirikassama, Guri, Auyo and some parts of Hadejia local government areas, suffered from the flooding of River Hadejia as result of blockage of water ways by typha grass, which aided in keeping the water stationary, making farming impossible in the affected farm fields.
“On the other hand, the communities that suffer as a result of shortage of water due to the blockage are forced to abandon irrigation farming. Dakiya and other villages suffer from shortage of water since the last 20 years.
“The grass brought a lot of other opportunistic weeds that blocked waterways. These grasses can cover as much as 300 meters across the river. About 70 per cent of farm fields owned by the people living along the wetland valley can no longer be cultivated.
“Prior to the phenomenon of typha grass, over 50 trailers conveyed farm produce to other part of this country but when typha grass took over, production dropped, and only about five trailers of harvested crops are realis`ed per season.”
Also speaking to Daily Trust, a farmer in Auyo Local Government Area, Abdullahi Mohammed Ganuwar Kuka, said among the affected local government areas, Kirikisima was worst hit because apart from typha grass devastation, there was also intrusion of a potassium-like substance which rendered the land infertile.
He said blockage of waterways in the wetland valley was prevalent in Jigawa State, which suffered from flooding, while the downstream of the valley suffered from drought.
He, however, said succour had started coming the way of the affected areas as dredging had been carried in some parts of the valley.
“When the problem of typha grass reached its peak in the last 15 years, farmlands, grazing fields and fish ponds were all lost to the grass. About 60 per cent of farming-related activities had been lost to typha grass. Potash intrusion is another disaster, crops of all species can no longer grow in fields affected by a potash-like substance,” he said.
Source: Daily Trust