Story from Kenneth AFOR, Lagos
Farmers in South-Western Nigeria have lamented over the prolonged cessation of rain in the region which has prevented them from carrying out normal farming activities on their farmlands.
This concern is coming against the prediction issued by the Nigeria Meteorological Organisation who had earlier warned that Lagos, Ijebu-Ode, Ibadan, Akure, Shaki, Iseyin, Ilorin, Ado Ekiti, Enugu, Benin and Lokoja would experience 10-25 days of drought.
However, it was observed that the said areas last witnessed rain since June 21, 2020, and it is almost three months the rains have refused to fall.
Farmers affected by this unforeseeable circumstance have resorted to irrigation farming.
According to Kolawole Olufemi, a cassava and maize farmer in Ibadan-Ibarapa area of Oyo State, due to this drought, his crops have wilted, prompting him to adopt irrigation farming.
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, 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?
“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 the loses.”
Meanwhile, another farmer in Ogun State, Lekan Balogun, an Agric Extension worker, said the only reason his crops have made it so far is because of his adoption of irrigation techniques on his farm.
He said, “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 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 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 in radio or TV, they have never contributed to causing as it will affect them more and so the government must step in with more education and facilities.”