Farmers in Nigeria’s South-West region have expressed concern over the unusual frequency and length of rainfall and dry spells, saying it could portend a national food crisis if government's intervention does not occur.
The Nigeria Meteorological Organisation had predicted that in the year 2020, the severe effect of the little dry season is expected over the coast of Lagos, Ijebu-Ode, Ibadan, Akure, Shaki, Iseyin, Ilorin, Ado Ekiti, Enugu, Benin and Lokoja lasting about 10-25 days.
This predication, however, failed in most of the areas with rainfall ceasing in some parts since June 21.
Kolawole Olufemi, who grows Cassava and Maize in Ibadan-Ibarapa area of Oyo State, says his crops wilted, prompting him to take out a loan to buy water to irrigate his farmland.
He said, “The rains did not start early this year but we were able to plant, hoping that it will become more frequent around May-June.
"When the rain stopped around last week of June, non of us in our association took it seriously but then it continued. My cassava started drying in the ground, some started rotting, and my maize started turning yellow, you know how it turns yellow when there is no fertiliser. I had to take a loan from our corporative to pay water tankers who come to water the farm now. How much is my profit from everything that I am buying water?
“Many others with smaller farms may not be able to afford that and that is why we are pleading with Makinde and everybody to help us to cope, they should provide package for farmers to cushion the effect of he loses.”
Another farmer in Ogun State, Lekan Balogun, who is also an extension worker, said the only reason his crops have made it so far is because of his knowledge of the irrigation techniques.
He said, “The South-West if you look at it comprises of a swampy vegetation. We always have rain at the right time so people here are used to it but times are changing. The family who owns the plot after my own, if you ask them what irrigation is, they don’t know. They farm as a means of subsistence and so when it fails to rain they cannot cope. The other day another farmer in the area saw my pumping machine and hoses and said he could never afford such unless he sells his farmland and we laughed over it.
“This is the reality, the government must invest in extenstion services to teach farmers in rural areas the best practices so that they can take care of them selves like when things like this happen. Many farmers have only heard of the word climate change radio or TV, they have never contributed to causing it ut will affect them more and so the government must step in with more education and facilities.”