Farmers in South-West Nigeria lament insufficient rainfall, cry for help

Farming in Nigeria in 2020: Farmers in South-West Nigeria lament lack of adequate rainfall as they cry out for government intervention
Emeh Joy

Farmers in the South-West region of Nigeria have expressed their concern over the unusually low frequency of rainfall and short duration of this year's rainy season adding that it could result in a national food crisis if the government doesn't intervene.

According to a report on Sahara Reporters, the Nigerian Meteorological Organization had predicted that this year, (2020), a severe effect of a short dry season would be expected over the coast of Lagos, Ijebu-Ode, Ibadan, Shaki, Akure, Illorin, Iseyin, Ado-Ekiti, Benin, Lokoja and Enugu and would last for about 10 to 25 days.

However, the prediction failed in some of the areas listed while rainfall ceased in some parts since June 21.

A cassava and maize farmer in Ibadan-Ibarapa area of Oyo State, Kolawole Olufemi said his crops dried up which forced him to take a loan to purchase water for irrigation purpose.

"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, none 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?" Olufemi said.

According to the report, another farmer in Ogun state identified as Lekan Balogun had admitted that the only reason his crops have survived so far is because of his knowledge of irrigation methods.

"The South-West, if you look at it comprises of 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 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 extension services to teach farmers in rural areas the best practices so that they can take care of themselves when things like this happen.

"Many farmers have only heard of the word "climate change" over the radio or TV; they have never contributed to causing it, but it will affect them more. So, the government must step in with more education and facilities", Balogun, who is also an extension worker, said.

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