Thursday, December 9, 2021

Nigerian farmers experience dry spell, request early input distribution next season

The farmers said thousands of hectares of farmlands wilted due to the prolonged dry spell in Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Yobe and Jigawa States.

• November 15, 2021
Dry Farm
Dry Farm

Some farmers in the North-East have called for early distribution of farm inputs for the commencement of dry season activities.

This, they said, is to mitigate the effects of the dry spell recorded during the 2021 cropping season in parts of the region.

Thousands of hectares of farmlands became wilted due to the prolonged dry spell in Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Yobe and Jigawa States.

Some of the produce worst hit include rice, beans, cowpea, maize, sorghum and groundnut.

However, farmers in Borno were hopeful of a bumper harvest sequel to the restoration of peace and resettlement of farming communities who cultivated their farmlands for the first time in the past decade.

A cross-section of farmers who spoke with NAN said that early distribution of fertiliser and inputs at subsidised prices would encourage productivity and enhance food security.

A smallholder farmer in Gombi, Adamawa LG, Umar Usman, said that the shortage of rainfall had affected many farmers especially those that planted late.

Mr Usman said that rice and cowpea growers were worst hit by the early stoppage of rainfall, stressing that it was high time farmers embraced improved seeds to guard against such an unpleasant experience.

The chairman of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) in the state, Usman Michika, advised farmers to prepare their lands for irrigation activities to enable them to recover their losses.

Mr Michika said that those who started clearing their farms on time for the dry season farming might get higher yields at harvest period.

He urged the state government to provide the inputs on time for farmers.

In his contribution, AFAN’s chairman in Yobe, Usman Ngari, said the dry spell resulted in the poor harvest in most parts of the state.

Mr Ngari listed the affected areas to include Damaturu, Tarmuwa, Geidam, Yunusari, Yusufari, Nguru, and Gashua.

“Usually, the rainy season begins in May/June and ends around October. Unfortunately, this year, it ended about three months ago when some farmers had just planted their crops.

“The situation is leading to poor harvest, with farmers who used to produce between 40 and 100 bags of grains now harvesting between five and 30 bags,” he said.

According to Mr Ngari, the trend exposes maize, sorghum and rice to hardship.

He called on the state and Federal Government to assist farmers with credit facilities and farm inputs to cushion the effects of hardship.

Similarly, AFAN’s chairman in Jigawa, Maiunguwa Jaga, said the dry spell affected bumper harvest in about 20 to 30 per cent of total cultivated lands in the state.

He, however, said the association had met with Governor Muhammed Badaru to discuss ways out and measures to be taken to minimize losses in future.

“We told the governor about an early yielding seed called ‘super sosa’ that grows and matures between 60 and 70 days. He even directed for the piloting or testing of this improved seed,” the chairman said.

According to him, the association will use the medium of radio to educate farmers on how to plant early to minimise losses at harvest.

Meanwhile, a Bauchi-based agronomist, Iliyasu Gital, has called on the government at all levels to invest more in irrigation agriculture as a means of boosting crop production in the country.

Mr Gital said that investment in irrigation agriculture would eliminate most of the challenges being faced by farmers.

An expert, Abdu Malala, who corroborated the earlier option, urged farmers to adopt climate-smart agriculture by basing their production in line with weather information and use of early maturing varieties of crops.

“Once rainfall is predicted for a particular area, farmers should plan their production calendar based on the prediction,” Mr Malala said.

Programme Manager of the Bauchi State Agricultural Development Programme, Jafaru Ilelah, also expressed the need for farmers to embrace irrigation farming.

Mr Ilelah cautioned farmers against hasty sales of produce at harvest, saying they should preserve it to feed their families.

According to him, the agency is sensitising farmers on the need to engage in dry season activities.

Meanwhile, farmers in Borno have expressed joy over peaceful farming activities across the state, describing this year’s cropping season as far better than previous years.

Also, commenting on the good harvest, Governor Babagana Zulum, said the return of peace in many areas led to the expansion of farming activities in many parts of the state.

“This year, areas under cultivation in Borno have increased by over 600 per cent,” Mr Zulum said.

Another farmer, Bukar Mustafa, said that grain prices crashed in the markets because of the improvement in supply occasioned by higher yields recorded by farmers.

“A measure of beans sold for N550 as against its old price of N1,000,” Mr Mustafa said.

However, prices of grain have gone up in Yola, Adamawa by about 30 per cent since the commencement of harvest.

Muhammad Nazir, a grains dealer at Jimeta Market in Yola, attributed the hike to the increase in the demand for food in the area.

A bag of paddy rice was sold at N17,000 against its old price of N14,000.

A medium-sized bag of maize was sold between N15,000 and N16,000 depending on its quality, while a measure was N350 as against N270 before the harvest.

A measure of beans cost N1,200 as against the old price of N800. 

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