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Anxiety grips farmers over rainfall break

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FARMERS in Anambra State and their Oyo State counterpart have expressed concerns over the prolonged absence of rain in the tropical rain regions of the country; hinting fears of poor harvest of some crops this season.

  Disclosing fears occasioned by the lingering break of rain and the possible consequences to the media, a rice farmer in Achalla, Awka North LGA, in Anambra State, Raymond Ezedude said that maize crop and other cereals may be heading for poor harvest if the rains fail to return soonest.

 He lamented that since the beginning of August, rains have not fallen in the area and major surroundings making crops to start showing pale colours now.

  Corroborating Ezdude’s fears, a yam farmer from Anam, Stephen Onwordi, who spoke to National Light  said, rains had  not been regular at all when compared to other years.

“The new yams are supposed to have driven out the old tubers by now but as you can see, we still have the old tubers on sale in the markets now. We know there used to be August break but this season’s break is extending to the point of affecting crops.” Onwordi noted.

In a similar development, farmers in Oyo State are apprehensive of harvests this season. 

 The farmers noted that since seven weeks, there had been scanty rainfall that could not wet the plants sufficiently.

Speaking to the media in Ibadan yesterday, a large-scale farmer at Ido, Oke Owa and Lanlate, Jide Oguntokun, said that climate change had affected his livelihood.

“This year alone, I can say I have lost a huge amount of money to produce loss due to climate change. In the last seven weeks or more, we have not had rain.

“Government is asking people, especially youths, to go to the farm but there are issues that need to be addressed if farming will be productive for people in the business.

“I have spent a lot of money to cultivate and plant on hectares of land but for the past seven weeks I have not seen rain.

“I just got a call from my farm over the weekend that most of my crops have dried up.

The farmer lamented that he paid N250,000 per annum to each Togolese that he employed on his farm and I have about 10 of them; noting that it culminates to about N2.5 million he will be paying at the end of November.

Continuing, “all my tomatoes and peppers as I speak are all dried. The only thing I am banking on is palm trees because they are hardly affected by lack of rainfall.

“Cassava is also a strong crop too but every other thing has been affected by climate change.

“Even the plantains I planted are not bringing out fruit because there is no water to sustain them,” he said.

Oguntokun said the focus had been on COVID-19 pandemic, noting that relevant stakeholders ought to look beyond 2020.

“We need to start to look at 2021 for food sufficiency because COVID-19 pandemic will just be a minor thing in the face of impending famine and starvation.

“There is a need for a food bank but I don’t think such provisions have been made to cater for the time of need.

It will be recalled that government’s effort to achieve food sufficiency led Anambra State Governor to introduce the Ugboazuno farm program in the state.

The program has since received massive support from the populace who keyed into it by embarking on farm practice in available lands in the state.

Findings show that the current spate of rainfall may affect harvest this season.

 According to a smallholder farmer from Otu town, Alaga village in the Oke Ogun region of Oyo State,  Bola Abodunrin, the greatest challenge for the ongoing planting season is inadequate rainfall.

“This year, we are experiencing hardship due to lack of rainfall. Our plants are not growing as it should and they are drying off on the field.

“Food items are very expensive due to this. There are low yields due to the absence of rainfall as and when due to make the crops produce and grow as they should,” Abodunrin said.

However, a geographic information system analyst in the state, David Afolayan,  said that “major solution is the need for public private partnerships techniques that leverage on the Geographic Information Systems technology”.

 “Since climate change is occasioned by human activities over a long period of time, efforts should be made towards ensuring climate-friendly practices and tree planting to correct damage done to the ozone layer, thereby reducing the adverse effects of climate on nature.

“There is also a need for collaboration to merge technology with native intelligence in beating the present climate conditions to optimise crop planting.

“This will afford us to predict when farmers can plant and to have seeds that are climate smart; meaning they have been modified to adapt to changes in the climate,” Afolayan said.

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