Nigeria Meteorological Agency’s [NIMET] weather forecast for this year, that there is likelihood of low yield of agricultural produce due to early cessation of rains, should be taken seriously by all concerned. It comes at a time when the rainy season has just commenced in some states while other states are warming up for it. State governments and farmers should take adequate measures to ensure that they get the best out of the season.
Director General/CEO of NIMET Dr. Anthony Anuforom, at NIMET’s annual Seasonal Rainfall Prediction (SRP) held in Abuja last week, said Nigeria would be witnessing a year characterised by early onset of very heavy downpour, which may however not last very long and a dry season that will start about October in most parts of the country. He said there will be “an early cessation of rain in Nigeria” this year, “resulting in shorter than normal length of growing season for farmers.”
He also said, “The expected below normal rainfall for 2017 will pose challenge to enhanced food production and the federal government’s policy on food security and agriculture as a business towards foreign exchange earnings. Rain-fed agricultural production in the country this year would have to be supported with irrigation for farmers to get good yield apart from the provision of seeds, fertilizer and other inputs”.
The relevant authorities and groups must take this warning with the seriousness it deserves, especially at a time like this when the nation is looking back towards agriculture as the mainstay of our economy. In addition to NIMET’s nationwide weather forecast, we urge each state government to commission localised meteorological studies of their own because the more localised weather forecast is, the more accurate it tends to be. Since we expect early cessation of rainfall, agricultural research institutes and extension services should ensure the availability of fast yielding seedlings to farmers. In addition, state governments should improve upon the timely provision of other agricultural inputs, especially fertiliser and improved seedlings.
Our farmers in the rural areas, who form the bulk of the farming population, may not even be aware of this important weather forecast so efforts must be stepped up to make them aware of it and the needed adjustments to be made. If our rainy seasons are getting shorter, then we need to make greater investment in the area of irrigation farming. We also urge the government to put the empty silos across the country to good use, both in order to reduce the colossal waste from poor storage and also to enhance food security planning.
NIMET also predicted that floods are likely to occur in Sokoto, Zamfara, Niger, Kwara, Oyo, Ogun and Adamawa states. It said, “the predicted rainfall amount is expected to be below normal in Yobe, Kano, Bauchi, Gombe, Kebbi, Plateau, Taraba, Benue, Kogi, northern Cross River, Enugu, Imo, Abia and some coastal areas.” other states are expected to experience normal rainfall.
It is unfortunate that despite predictions of flood every year, the nation still records loss of lives and property when floods occur. That is an indication that either the warnings are not taken seriously or the approach used in tackling the situation is faulty. Thankfully since 2012, when the nation experienced loss of lives and billions of naira in the agricultural and housing sectors due to flood, the situation has not been so bad.
However relevant authorities should hit the ground running and make adequate preparations for flood prevention and disaster mitigation. Precautionary measures must be taken; drainage should be cleared and people living in flood-prone areas should be relocated. Nor is not enough to ask people to move as is done yearly; temporary accommodation should be provided for people living in such areas to encourage them to move. We must learn the right lessons and benefit maximally from NIMET’s weather forecast.
SOURCE: Daily Trust (2017), View Link.