Early Rainfall: Farmers To Be Calculative About Crop Planting
Sequel to NiMet’s predictions of early commencement of rainfall this year, farmers in Kaduna, Kano and Katsina states say they are weighing their options.
In their responses to a survey conducted recently, the farmers said considering their past experiences,
appropriate timing of when to start planting crops, was paramount.
While others said early planting of crops was a wise idea, others argued that such move was never a sensible option because there could be period of ‘dry spell’ or excessive rainfall.
They however urged the authorities to play their parts by ensuring the provision of farm inputs early enough to enable farmers take appropriate decision about when to commence planting.
One of the respondent also challenged agriculture research institutes, to produce seeds that would suit the changing pattern of rainy season.
In Kaduna, farmers said they would exercise caution in deciding when to commence planting this cropping season.
They told NAN that early or late planting of crops had its advantages and disadvantages, saying the situation and rain pattern must be followed carefully.
The Chairman, Maize Farmers Cooperative Society, Auwal Abdulahi said farmers who commenced planting early last year following similar NIMET predictions, lost 70 percent of their crops due to excessive downpour.
”This year, we will consider our past experience and observe the situation before we commence planting; we have our fears in planting early, so we would wait for the rains to start proper,” he said.
A farmer and member of Masanawa Cooperative Society, Mr Joshua Mallam said it was not advisable to plant early as crops would not get the needed moisture required to develop.
He said any break in rainfall, after early commencement, would result in damage to crops, and result in losses.
However, he said with the right intervention from government, farmers could argument any fluctuation in rainfall to boost yields.
Bage Bungwon, Director of Agricultural Services, Kaduna state Ministry for Agriculture, said farmers could start clearing farmlands and wait for tillage and planting when rainfall became steady.
“They should plant smartly, or wait till the month of May to plant their crops, when NiMet said the rainy season will stabilise ,” he suggested.
In a contrary view, a farmer in Kudan, Local Government Area, Salisu Yahya said early commencement of rain was a blessing, and that there should be no cause for fear if the right crops were planted.
On their part, farmers in Katsina urged government to support them with fertiliser and other farm inputs to enable early commencement of farming activities.
The farmers said the call became imperative sequel to the prediction of early rainfall in some parts of the country in 2023.
They observed that whenever the rainy season commenced early, it also usually ended early, pointing out that the situation called for ‘meticulous calculations’.
Malam Tukur Yunusa, a farmer, said that provision of farm inputs in good time would enable them plan well and adjust to the predictions made by experts.
He argued that early rainfall might not have any negative affect on crops if the farmers planned well, warning that any delay in planting could result in disappointment.
“If farmers delay planting until the month of May or June, there could be problems; they need to follow the weather and plant the crops because time is of the essence ,” he said.
An expert in agriculture, Malam Nasir Umaru, said the change in the rainfall pattern might not affect crops production, provided that farmers also planted crops at the right time.
He said that early rainfall was not a new thing because planting period had been changing from time-to-time.
Umaru urged agriculture research institutions to come up with improved seeds that would suit the changing pattern of rainfall.
Meanwhile, Chairman, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), in Kano State, Malam Abdulrasheed Rimin-Gado, advised farmers not to rush into planting because of the perceived early rains this year.
Prepare their farmlands
Instead, the AFAN chairman enjoined them to prepare their farmlands and start planting from the month of May, when rainy season would have stabilised.
The chairman also advised the government on timely distribution of fertiliser to ensure good harvest and food security.
The chairman also called on Federal, State and Local Government authorities to take measures that would help in reducing the high cost of fertiliser.