Food Security: 2019 NiMet Predictions and Socio-economic Implications in Nigeria (III), by Professor MK Othman

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Professor Sani Mashi

BreakThrough

As discussed in the second part of this article, the 2019 NiMet predictions covered rainfall onset, cession, amount and length of growing season. The predictions also covered temperature, dry spell, incidences of malaria, and cerebrospinal meningitis in the selected towns across the nation.

On rainfall onset, the country is predicted to experience late onset in most parts of the country. The earliest onset is predicted to be around 7th March in the coastal and south-south towns. This onset will progressively change northwards to cover the nation with towns at extreme north like Miduguri, Katsina, Potiskum and Nguru expected to have their rainfall onset on 16th June as the late onset.

On the cession of rainfall, northwestern towns will experience rainfall cession around 29th September with several towns in the north having their cessions in October. Central and southern states are expected to receive their last rain of the year between late October and mid November. In 2019, the length of growing season in selected towns covering the nation ranges from 109 to 291 days.

Consequently, shorter growing season is predicted for most parts of the country such as Sokoto, Gusau, Zaria, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Gombe, Bauchi, Lokoja, Enugu and Ikom. Normal growing season is predicted for Shaki, Ado-Ekiti, Ibadan, Ondo, Akure, Benin, Port Harcourt, Calabar, Owerri, Uyo, Umuahia and areas surrounding such places.

Furthermore, the 2019 SRP contains “dry spell” prediction in selected towns across the nation. Dry spell is a situation after crops establishment when rain cease to occur over a period of time and causing the crops to wilt. The term dry spell is commonly used by agriculturalists. The prediction shows that several states in the northeast and northwest will experience dry spell of between ten and twenty one days in the month of June. The notable towns mentioned in the prediction to experience dry spell in the month of June are Bauchi, Dutse, Sokoto, Gusau, Katsina, Birnin Kebbi, Maiduguri and their surroundings. Similarly, moderate dry spell for a period of 8 to 15 days are predicted for Bida, Minna, Zaria, Funtua, Lafia, Bauchi, Abuja, Gombe and Yola in June 2019. Additionally, the June dry spell wills spillover to first two weeks in July 2019, which will occur in seven states. Borno is one of the states and the towns predicted to experience dry spell in the state are Jere, Mobbar, Abadam, Kukawa, Guzamala, Gubio, Nganzai and Mongono.

In Jigawa state they are Birniwa, Guri, Sule-Tankarkar, Maigatari and Babura. In Sokoto state, Illela, Gada, Tangaza, Isa, Gudu and their surroundings are among the predicted places. Katsina state has the following towns: Jibia, Kaita, Mai’Adua, Daura, Mashi, Dutsi and their surrounding areas.

Yobe is another state mentioned with the following towns: Yusufari, Yunusari, Machina, Karasuwa and the surrounding towns. Kebbi State was also mentioned with towns such as Augie, Arewa Dandi and Argungu. Zamfara is the seventh State with areas in Shinkafi, Zurmi, Maradun, Bakura, and Kaura-Namoda towns.

These towns/areas will experience dry spell in the first week of July for 8 to 18 days spilling from the June dry spell. In a similar vein but with less severity, few towns in the southwest will experience sparse rainfall occurrences from 19th July to 6th August 2019. The towns are Ilorin, Ibadan, Osogbo, Ibadan, Lagos and their surroundings.

Temperature variation across the country was another parameter predicted by NiMet. The predictions for day and night temperatures were similarly presented. Generally, the predictions show warmer temperature for greater parts of the country than normal. In the month of January 2019, majority of the places are expected to experience normal temperature with exception of few border towns located in Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Kwara and Oyo states. In these towns, the temperature will be 20C above normal. However, night and day temperatures for the month of February and April 2019 will be higher than the monthly average indicating warmer trend. The country is expected to be warmer- than- normal over most parts of the states except for Nguru, Dutse, Bauchi, Yola, Bidda, Abuja and Ogoja that will be expecting a normal nighttime temperature situation. What are the implications for these predictions? What is the mitigation strategy for the farmers in the affected areas?

The predictions have serious implications to critical sectors that influence national economy and livelihood of Nigerians. Agriculture is the first among these important sectors. The prediction of early rainfall cessation in the northern parts of the country will result in shorter length of growing season for many crops. Therefore, early provision of and accessibility to improved/drought resistant variety (early maturing) seeds of staple crops are recommended.

Improved varieties of rice, maize, cassava, sorghum, and millet among other important crops are required to mitigate the effect of short duration of rainy season. NiMet made very important recommendation “governments at all levels are advised to embark on awareness and sensitization of farmers and other stakeholders on Climate Smart Agricultural (CSA) practices such as on-farm water harvesting structures, soil and water conservation practices, land preparation, etc.

Farmers are encouraged to make provision for irrigation water during predicted periods of dry spell. Planting and management of more trees around homes and farms are also advised to mitigate adverse climatic conditions in order to have more friendly conducive environments for comfort and better farming activities”

Electrical Power sector is another critical area, which receives direct impact from predicted high temperatures and low rainfall amounts. Power generation, transmission and distribution could be affected by onset, cessation and length of the rainy season.

The effects range from uprooting of transmission/distribution poles due to strong storms to lower water level in the hydro-generating stations that result in poor power generation, transmission and distribution. Hence, NiMet recommended, “use of renewable energy such as solar, gas turbine and windmills as alternatives to Hydroelectricity generation”. These areas have high potential for the country and should thus, be explored and exploited.

Transportation sector is another area of concern likely to be affected by the NiMet Predictions. Road transport, aviation, rail and marine are likely to be directly or indirectly influenced by the 2019 SRP. High temperature, rainstorms and violent winds, which characterize the onset of rainfall period, can cause disruptions in road transport, damage road infrastructure, and complicate road maintenance. Poor visibility and heavy storms are characteristics of Nigerian tropical rainy season and greatly affect the aviation subsector.

Health sector will be influenced by the 2019 SRP. The 2019 forecast of temperature and rains across the country is expected to have strong impact on public health. In the first four months of the year, the temperature will be warmer than normal one. The combined effect of high temperature and high wind speed blowing dust would pose serious health challenges to the public. NiMet predicted, “Health challenges related to cases of Asthma, Meningitis, respiratory and sight allergies and cardio-vascular diseases are likely to surge during the period”.

Incidence of Malaria attack will range from mild to severe during the 2019 rainy season. High temperature (18°C to 32°C), rainfall and high relative humidity are the major factors increasing the population of Anopheles Mosquitoes, which transmit malaria disease. Precipitation and thick vegetation cover provide conducive environment for the survival of the vector and the development of the mosquito’s parasite responsible for malaria transmission and spread.

NiMet prediction on malaria in the month of April stated “The incidences of malaria and other diseases will be higher in several areas starting from the coast and move to cover the whole nation as the progresses. High vigilance for malaria cases is required over the southern states and parts of the central states of Kogi, Benue, Plateau and Kwara States. Moderate vigilance is required over the central states such as Abuja, parts of Kogi, Kwara, Niger, Nassarawa, Benue, Plateau and Taraba States. Low vigilance is required over the rest of country”.

Still on health, the incidence of cerebrospinal meningitis was also predicted. Dust, wind and humidity are conditions favorable for the emergence of meningitis. NiMet predictions indicated, “Climate conditions are favorable for high vigilance of meningitis cases over Yobe and Zamfara States.Moderate vigilance is required over Kano, Gombe, Borno, Gombe, Katsina, Jigawa, Sokoto and Kebbi and parts of Adamawa and Bauchi States, including the northern fringes of Kaduna and Niger States. Low vigilance is required over Taraba, Plateau, Abuja, Kwara and parts of Niger, Nassarawa, Adamawa, Bauchi and Kaduna States”

In conclusion, NiMet has successfully discharge her important mandate of presenting the 2019 SRP to the public. The ball is now in the court of the stakeholders to effectively utilize the information available in the 59-page document titled “2019 seasonal rainfall prediction”. The recommendations made in the document are germane and very useful for prevention and mitigation of the adverse effects of weather in the face of current climate change. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.

Professor Othman is the Executive Director of National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services (NAERLS), ABU Zaria.

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