Fire has gutted down the 10-hectared Daje Palm Oil Farm in Sabon-Gida, Langtang South Local Government, Plateau State, licking up more than 4,000 palm trees.
Also burnt by the weekend fire were 500 cashew trees, 200 improved varieties of mango trees, among other plants.
A News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) correspondent, who visited the 10-year-old farm owned by Dr. Nandul Durfa, former Chief Medical Director of Gwagwalada Specialist Hospital, Abuja found that most of the plants had been totally destroyed by the inferno.
Also destroyed were new palm oil seedlings being packaged for fresh planting to expand the farm
Durfa, who described the fire disaster as “devastating”, said that he had lost hundreds of millions to the inferno.
“Palm trees are resilient; if you water the burnt trees, they could come back to life, but this year’s proceeds are gone.
“There are also new seedlings that we have been treating for the past five years which have been consumed. Each seedling was purchased at N350 and we bought more than 4,000.
“We spend a minimum of N40,000 every month to treat and maintain the new seedlings. It is very devastating, really. It is difficult to quantity the financial loss and the psychological trauma,” he said.
Durfa, who purchased the palm trees from Nigeria Institute for Palm Oil Research, Benin, blamed the fire on rat hunters and the carelessness of the security men guarding the farm.
“The fire strayed into the farm from the nearby bush, but the security men and managers were not around to put it out.
“The fire was vicious and raged on for hours, aided by the dry leaves and the wind; by the time it was noticed, it had destroyed every part of the farm,” he said.
Durfa appealed to the government to support him to acquire new palm oil seedlings.
“My personal efforts have been greatly damaged. With the renewed attention to the agriculture sector, government and related agencies should support me to revive the farm because of its massive potential.
“The Federal Ministry of Agriculture should also assist in mowing the plantation to ensure that no grass grow beyond three inches,” he said.
He also urged the Plateau government to assist his efforts to expand the farm in view of its potential to improve the economy of the state.
“Government should show more interest in helping people ready to invest in the agricultural sector. It will not be fair for government to ignore such efforts only to send its men to collect dues when the efforts become successful,” he said.