Described as the worst ever in recent times, the floods sacked not only thousands of farmers from their homes but also suffocated and wiped away crops, threatening food security in the nation.
“Our farmers lost almost everything and we need help,” says Rodger Obubo, a top official with the Bayelsa State government who first contacted Kenton Dashiell, IITA deputy director-general, partnership and capacity development, for help.
“The 2012 floods were extraordinary and caused a lot of devastation of farm lands and human habitation. Our people became refugee in their own land,” Obubo adds.
Crops worst hit by the flood included cassava, plantain, yam, maize and pawpaw, which are major staples in the region.
Located in IITA Ibadan, the gene bank holds the largest collection of cowpea varieties, and is also a major bank to Africa’s major crops: cassava, yam, soybean, maize, banana and plantain. In the recent past, the gene bank has played a critical role in re-establishing farms in regions that have been hit by disasters such as civil wars and fire outbreaks.