Stakeholders in the Nigerian agricultural value chain have predicted poor harvest and a shortfall in food supply across the country next year due to the excessive rainfall recorded this year.
Speaking with the Nigerian Tribune, on Wednesday, a farmer, Mr Sunday Kayode, said: “The rains this year will no doubt have a negative effect on the availability of food in the country next year.
“Normally, the rains ought to have stopped early October but we are still experiencing heavy rainfall in November when we ought to be clearing the land for next season’s farming. If you plant anything new, it will surely get washed away by the rain.
“What I am trying to say in essence is that the excessive rainfall will affect our harvest and this will definitely translate to a shortfall in the food supply. The maize we planted in September as a result of the too much rain has spoilt. In an ideal situation, there should be rain and sunlight in order for the crops to germinate effectively.
“By now, we are supposed to be planting the new yam we usually have in early March and April but no farmer can do that at the moment so there is no way it will not affect food supply next year.”
Also speaking on the issue, Head, Kenaf and Jute Improvement Programme, Institute of Agricultural Research and Training, (IAR&T), Ibadan, Dr Olutayo Adeniyan, said, “The rains we are still witnessing in the month of November is not normal and this is the effect of climate change.
“It is actually a negative experience in terms of agricultural production. But it is a double-edged situation because if you look at it one side you may say it can be of advantage to few crops which were planted late in the year.
“Because of this extension of rains, it is of advantage to such crops such as cassava and tuber crops generally and also vegetables. This excessive rain will help in their production.
“But for grain production, like maize, sorghum, cowpea and soybean they do not need too much of rainfall because they need a bit of hour of sunshine for the pod to dry. But because of this excessive rainfall, the kind of weather they need for proper germination is not there.”
Adeniyan further stated that the rainfall is also capable of producing some microorganism which can destroy grains.
“Look at maize, for example, we can grow maize twice in the year. The first season is for the production of maize for people’s consumption, while the second phase is for the production of livestock feed.
“But because of this excessive rainfall now, the yield and the quality of what farmers will harvest in terms of grains may not be as expected in terms of yield.
This year’s case is exceptional because sometimes we have rain twice a day. So, this is serious as it is also affecting the preparation for next year’s farming season.”
He also noted that the heavy rain being recorded now, is causing farmers to spend more on the farm because they will be left with no other option than to do more than two regimes of weeding which will cost more.
He posited that the cause of the excessive rains is as a result of climate change, saying that:” Nobody can now give a correct prediction of when to plant like it used to be 10 to 15 years ago. Now, it is difficult to give the exact time the rain commences and ends in a year and this is really worrisome.”
Also sharing his thoughts on the topic of discourse, Technical Field Specialist, Farmcrowdy, Abdul Bangura, who attributed the excessive rain to climate change said:” We were supposed to start our farming cycle in June but because there was no rain early in June we could not. And when we had one or two rains, we planted. At present, we are still experiencing heavy downpour in some of our farm locations across the country.
“We were expecting that the rains would have stopped early October but up till now we are still experiencing rainfall and it is delaying the harvest. And when this happens, we experience post-harvest loss. If we are unable to harvest at the appropriate time, and we are dealing with grains there will rot.
Bangura concluded that this development will affect food supply next year, adding that:”If a farmer is expecting to harvest at a particular time with an estimated yield, for instance, if the farmer is expecting 5 tons per hectare, with this happening he may probably end up getting only 2 tons so automatically that will affect the supply to the market.
If he is expected to take ten bags to the market, now it will be like five bags.
Rice farmers in Benue State on Tuesday also lamented on the excessive rain, saying it might result in a low harvest for them.
According to one of them, “There is no way too much rainfall will not affect our harvest negatively.”
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) has forecast that rains for this year would continue till December.