Agriculture experts have warned farmers to be cautious of the recent variations and its impacts on food production in 2023.
The stakeholders, made the call in separate interviews on Friday, February 24, in Lagos, spoke against the backdrop of the recent harmattan outbreak across the country and consistent dry spells in spite of the Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NiMet) predictions.
The experts urged farmers to be wary of the current weather condition and avoid planting at the moment.
Mr Ismail Olawale, a fellow at the National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services (NAERLS), called on farmers to delay planting season so as to prevent loss of crops.
“Prior to the recent harmattan witnessed across the country, we have asked farmers not to rush into planting despite the few early rains of the year.
“The rains are not likely to be consistent early in the year, we have also observed dry spells and in order not to lose their crops, farmers have been advised not to commence planting season.
“It is not common to experience harmattan around this period of the year, but when it happens farmers should be wary of experiencing dry spell all through the year.
“Even for farmers who have adequate irrigation system in their farms, commencing planting at this time is actually risky because of the variations in climate change.
“Even with irrigation, the atmospheric temperature we are currently experiencing may hinder the crops from germinating well,” Olawale said.
“The weather will definitely affect crop health and growth, so farmers ought to be wary.
He said that local farmers must be abreast of any available information on rain patterns, climate change and weather variations
On his part, Mr Akin Alabi, the Co-founder, Corporate Farmers International, urged crop farmers at all levels to invest in irrigation farming and depend less on rain-fed agriculture.
“Food production for this year is going to be based on two factors, and the first is climate change.
“Climate change is a determinant for food production in Nigeria and does not begin immediately.
“The harmattan we witnessed last week and the dry spell we are currently experiencing are all effects of climate change.
“Until the rain begins to fall we cannot determine agricultural productivity for the year.
“However, we should go beyond the era of rain-fed agriculture, if you are going to go into agriculture you should be able to invest in infrastructure development like an irrigation system,” Alabi said.
He said that agriculture had gone beyond the age where people pray for rains to fall.
“No matter how small, each local farmer should be able to get an irrigation system to support his or her farming activities in spite of the climate change situation,” Alabi said.
Also speaking, Mr Uche Ikenga, the Chief Executive Officer of Farm Made Easy, called on farmers to wait for consistent rainfall before farming.
“The recent outbreak of the harmattan, the dry spell and the choky climates does not support crop cultivation at this time.
“Nothing really is going on in crop cultivation across farms in the country presently except those who have fully irrigated farms.
“Most local farmers are waiting till the rain begins in earnest and are consistent before they begin cultivation.
“As regards food production this year, we may have delayed harvests because planting have not commenced fully as expected.
“Except for farms that have proper irrigation system to boost crop cultivation we may have delayed harvests this year,” Ikenga added.
By Mercy Omoike