Tuesday, November 23, 2021

How climate change affects 2021 harvest — Nigerian farmers

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By Razak Owolabi, NAN

Farmers in the North-Central and Taraba have narrated different experiences from the effects of irregular rainfall patterns on harvest during the 2021 farming season, as the cropping season rolls to an end.

In a survey conducted by the News Agency of Nigeria in the zone, some of the farmers said the rains impacted on their crops positively as they were already recording bumper harvest.

Others, however, submitted that the rains had ceased too early, which made them to experience poor yields.

Experts are of the view that the irregular rainfall patterns which subsequently affect harvest in these parts of the country can also be attributed to the global problem of climate change.

In Benue, it was a joyous note as farmers said that the rainfall recorded in the state in the 2021 planting season affected their crops positively and had led to a bumper harvest for most.

One of them is Mbaoron Tyoakaa, a yam farmer, who said that the rainfall impacted positively on her crops.

“I am yet to commence full harvesting of my crops but I am sure that I will have better yields at the end of the day.

“I have harvested only a small portion and the harvest is good,” Ms Tyoakaa said excitedly.

Another grower, Terdue Ijir, a soybean farmer, said that he had very good harvest from the 2021 cropping season.

“I have harvested all the soybean that I planted; though I am yet to thrash it but I know that I will get more bags when compared to the 2020 harvest.

“I am grateful to God for the harvest because he provided us with enough rainfall,” Mr Ijir said.

A farmer who grows both soybean and rice, Titus Atondu, said that the bumper harvest experienced by farmers in the state had also affected the price of their yields.

Mr Atondu said that before the bumper harvest, a 28 – kilogramme bag of soybean was sold for N35,000 but now it is N28,000.

“Also, a 28kg bag of rice was sold for 32,000 and some N30,000 but now it is sold for N25,000 and N24,000 respectively for same size of bag,” he said.

The Director, Agricultural Services in the state, Thomas Unongo, also commented.

Mr Unongo said that farmers in the state were given seeds that could withstand drought and all types of infections, and that helped them to have bumper harvest.

“They were also given water resistant crops and they planted, so, no matter the amount of rainfall, they will still have bountiful harvest.

“Most farmers in the state will have bumper harvest because most of them applied the ”Good Agronomic Practices,” he said.

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Similarly, farmers in Taraba have expressed delight over the bumper harvest recorded in the 2021 cropping season due to the steady rainfall enjoyed in the state throughout the season.

Those of them who spoke with NAN in Jalingo noted that the rains had very positive impact on their crops during the season.

Among them was Simon Ijir, a rice farmer, who said that the rainfall which lasted up till November had resulted in bumper harvest for him and other farmers in the state.

“This cropping season is exceptional because there has been steady rainfall that led to a bumper harvest for many crops,” Mr Ijir said.

He, however, lamented that the bumper harvest did not cause a drop in prices of foodstuff in the state due to the current inflationary trend in the country.

Equally, Aliyu Suleiman, a maize farmer, said that the adequate rainfall had put smiles on the faces of farmers as it resulted to greater yields of many crops.

According to Suleiman, even the beans that he normally mixes with maize has done exceedingly well due to steady rainfall witnessed during the cropping season.

Mary Aso, a beniseed farmer, said the steady rainfall had helped greatly in enhancing bumper harvest in 2021.

David Kassa, the Taraba commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, said farmers of various crops had reported bumper harvest in the state.

According to Mr Kassa, the rainfall starts on time and continues till November, saying the situation has made high yield of crops possible in the state.

He urged farmers to reserve a portion of the crops for their consumption against the rising inflation in the country.

In Kogi, a farmer, Wale Oloruntoba, said farmers in the state had also recorded bumper harvest.

According to Mr Oloruntoba, everything they planted such as beniseed, beans, yam, soybeans and groundnuts, yielded very well, adding that guinea corn too has been growing well.

”We thank God for the level of rainfall this year because as farmers, we have experienced bumper harvest of crops such as yam, soya beans, maize and beniseed,” he said.

Esther Audu, the National President, Women in Agriculture Cooperative Federation Ltd. told NAN that rainfall had impacted positively on farm produce and food items in the 2021 cropping season.

Ms Audu said that under normal circumstances, the impact of the rains on the cost of food would have been great and favourable.

However, she said that the reverse was the case, because farmers could not cultivate much crops because of the fear of attacks by herdsmen and kidnappers.

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”So, there is not much difference in the cost of food,” Ms Audu said.

She said that rice, yam, maize, groundnuts were the crops the farmers were able to cultivate at nearby farmlands.

In a related development, in Plateau, an agriculture expert, Emmanuel Kwapdimma, said the state experienced unusual rainfall pattern during the 2021 cropping season, which he described as “a mixed fortune” for farmers in the area.

Mr Kwapdimma who works with the Plateau Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, said that the rain started late, ceased mid season and stopped early.

He said that the unusual pattern negatively affected crops such as rice and maize, but favoured potatoes, soybeans, and cowpeas.

“For potatoes, the water was enough, but it was not for maize because maize is usually planted late, same for rice,” Mr Kwapdimma said.

He said that the unusual situation had adversely affected harvest which in turn had negative impact on food security.

According to Mr Kwapdimma, if there is low yield per hectare, it will have ripple effects on food security generally.

“If you were getting 30 bags and then it is reduced to 20 bags, there is likelihood that it will affect food security.

“This is one of the impacts of climate change on food security,” he said.

John Wuyep, chairman All Farmers Association, AFAN, Plateau chapter, also told a tale of woe.

Mr Wuyep said there was a shortfall in the rainfall pattern in the state, and it affected crops especially rain-fed rice, maize and others.

“The rain stopped at some point and before it returned, most of the crops had withered.

“For most of this year, farms did not retain any water and such is not good for rice and other crops that need water to thrive.

“However, crops such as cowpea, potatoes and others that don’t need much water did well,” he said.

Amos Shinat, chairman Plateau Potato Value Chain, told NAN that the rainfall pattern did not affect potato much.

Mr Shinat said that except in places where the soil was gravel in nature and generated heat during the period that the rain ceased, there was nothing to complain about.

“We have gone round the village markets, and you will observe that the farmers have bumper harvest.

“If the rainfall pattern had affected it, we wouldn’t have seen much yield like that.

“If at all the rain affected us, maybe out of 100 farmers, 10 or 15 were affected depending on the nature of the land.

“Those that have good yields were far more than those that did not have,” she explained.

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The situation is, however, different in Niger, as the state chapter of AFAN said the sudden seizure of rain during the season would bring about poor yields and subsequent increase in prices of foodstuff.

The vice chairman of the association, Abdulrahman Yusuf, who stated this, was emphatic that there would be no bumper harvest in the state in 2021 unless government took proactive measures to assist farmers with dry season irrigation equipment.

“There was drought in between, so it will affect crop production negatively.

“There has been break in the rain pattern for over three weeks now,” Yusuf said.

He said that the cessation of rainfall would result in low yield for rice because many of the swampy areas where farmers cultivated rice did not get enough water to make it swampy.

“The inadequate rain has resulted in stunted growth for our rice. Therefore, we are going to have poor yields,” Mr Yusuf said.

The chairman said that other crops that would be affected negatively owing to inadequate rainfall were soybeans and sorghum which required adequate rainfall to mature.

He explained that cowpea such as beans would do well as it did not require heavy rain to mature.

Meanwhile, some farmers in Nasarawa State have lamented the low crop yields being recorded in the state, which they blamed on the commencement of early rains that were not sustained.

One of them is Abel Abogonye of Shabu community who complained that the early rains impacted negatively on his yam farm.

“When the rain started late February, so many of us started planting yams. Unfortunately the rain ceased around March, but returned and lasted till the end of May, when most yams became stunted.

“The yield is not as we had in 2020. At about this time last year, we were selling 10 tubers of yam for less than N3,000 because of the bumper harvest. Now, 10 tubers of yam, depending on the size, ranges between N5,000 and N7,000,” Mr Abogonye said.

Blessing Wuni, a beans and water melon farmer, said the irregular rainfall affected her yields this harvest season.

“A 100 kilogramme bag of melon now sells for N108,000 as against N53,000 it was sold same time in 2020.

“Beans now sells for N1,200 per measure (Mudu) as against N350 same time last year,” Wuni said.

She however, said that farmers in the area were expecting bumper harvest of crops such as guinea corn and millet.

NAN

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