NIMET predicts bumper harvest for farmers
The pattern of rainfall for this year is expected to be as much as that of last year in most parts of the country with some states in the north-west zone like Sokoto, Kebbi, Kwara and Niger likely to experience heavier rainfall than what was recorded in 2012, Director General of the Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NIMET), Dr. Anthony Anuforom has said.
Dr Anuforom who was presenting the 2013 seasonal rainfall prediction in Abuja said there will be enough rainfall in all parts of the country for wet season farming. “The normal growing season for 2013 is an indication of a likely good farming year across the country. Farmers are therefore advised to commence field establishment of their crop within the period when the rains have fully set in except for tuber and root crops.
“Dry spells are likely to occur in Katsina, Sokoto, Zamfara, Yobe and Borno states particularly in the month of June, 2013. Farmers in these states are therefore advised to apply caution when planting and to seek guidance from appropriate authorities to prevent economic loss. In addition, plants in nurseries and fields should be safeguarded through irrigation in order to reduce economic loss from the dry spells,” he said.
The NIMET boss said the substantial rainfall expected over the Savannah regions would be enough to give high agricultural yields crops while the rainfall expected in the south would be enough to ensure good production of cereal and root crops
He advised farmers in the south and central parts of the country to plant tuber crops before the full establishment of the rain while those in Kebbi, Taraba, Niger and Anambra states should plant crops expected to mature early for better yields.
He said for better and effective agricultural production, “Farmers should have access to low-interest credit sufficiently well ahead of the planting season to enable them source relevant farm inputs such as fertilizer, improved seeds and seedlings, agro chemicals, hire tractors and other services.”
On the issue of livestock, Dr Anuforom said livestock production would improve as a result of the normal rainfall, adding, “A good management of rangeland for improved pastures through effective use of the predicted rainfall is recommended. This is to facilitate production of fodder to be stored against the dry season and thus prevent escalation of conflicts between farmers and herdsmen in 2013.
“Rain harvesting especially in the north in form of field ponds should also be encouraged to avoid early water starvation. Government at all levels is advised to provide livestock input such as improved breeds, feeds and vaccines on time to increase potential for livestock production,” he said.
On the onset of this year’s rainfall in the country, he said most of the southern parts of the country will start experiencing rainfall by late February, third week of April for the states in the central part while places in the far north will start having rainfall in the first week of June.
But when Daily Trust contacted some farmers at Tudun Falani in the outskirt of Bwari in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), two days after NIMET has released the rainfall prediction for the year, they said they were not aware of the release of the rainfall prediction and have never been guided by any such prediction.
Zephaniah Moses and Gladys Kuduru told this reporter in separate interviews that they have never been educated by any government official on when to plant their crops and what to plant at a particular time with Zephaniah saying, “I do not have a radio or television. There is no electricity where I am living. No official ever came to educate us on what you are saying now,” he said.
But the head of corporate communication of NIMET, Barrister Eva Azinge said the agency is taking appropriate steps to ensure that farmers are carried along because they are important partners and stakeholders in NIMET, adding, “When you look critically, you will observe that we invited state government owned media organizations, regional and community media in addition to national media organizations just to reach out to the local farmer.
“We are devising other means of making sure we carry farmers more closely in our subsequent events. We are conscious of the fact that when our farmers are educated properly on the rainfall prediction as a guide to knowing when and what to plant, it will enhance agricultural production. So, we are doing a lot to ensure that the farmers are properly educated on how to use weather information to enhance their productivity.
“You can see that we have moved our office from Maitama to the airport where we are occupying a vast land with all our equipments. Farmers around Abuja can walk in anytime and ask questions. The Maitama office was not good for that because it was not easily accessible to farmers,” she said.
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