Experts in the agriculture sector in Edo and Delta have offered advice to farmers in the states on some of the best farming methods to adopt.
This is against the backdrop of the Nigerian Meteorological Agency’s (NIMET) recent prediction of early rainfall across the country, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.
Segun Solomon, the director of Extension Services, Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR), Benin, advised farmers against planting with the first rain to minimise losses.
Mr Solomon told NAN in an interview in Benin that it was advisable to begin planting when “the rains are relatively steady”.
“It is very good that NIMET provides some level of rainfall predictions to guide Nigerian farmers.
“It is advisable for farmers not to plant with the first rains. Experience in the last three to four years has shown some level of dry spell after the first rains.
“It is advisable to commence planting when the rains are relatively steady to minimize losses,” he said.
Mr Solomon said adequate rainfall is good for agriculture with good management practices for improved yields.
According to him, the issue of climate change has greatly affected weather predictions and agricultural production all over the world.
Similarly, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Peter Aikhuomobhgbe, also advised farmers to plant their crops when the rains are steady.
Mr Aikhuomobhgbe said normally, the month of March was the beginning of the farming season in Edo, but farmers were advised to plant when the rains were established.
“We have had rain in January in Edo; if farmers had planted in January, you can imagine what would have happened because there has been no other rain since then.
“Only those farming by the riverbank with irrigation can plant when they like to plant.
“Those who depend on rain to farm will need to wait till the end of March when the rains will be fully established,” he said.
Mr Aikhuomobhgbe explained that the state government was putting a strategy in place to make sure farmers had a seamless farming season.
“Government is planning to make improved seeds, seedlings and cassava cuttings available through the ADP to farmers to intensify production because we now have a lot of companies that will off-take the produce in Edo.
“Farmers will be re-empowered to grow maize; maize is one of the crops we are pushing this year, same we are doing for cassava,” he said.
According to Mr Aikhuomobhgbe, the ministry is trying to intensify the cultivation of TMS 2205 alongside TMA 419 cassava varieties because they have a high yield.
But, the Deputy Chairman of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) in Edo, Amadi Osayande, differed a little, saying farmers could plant with the first rain depending on the crops.
Mr Osayande said it is good to plant early so that there will be a good harvest.
“It is good to plant yam early even with first rain. So, for me, I am preparing land to plant my yam when the rain starts,” he said.
In Delta, the state chairman of AFAN, Richard Asenime, said the association was already sensitising farmers on NIMET’s prediction of early rainfall this year.
Mr Asenime said the sensitisation was to educate farmers to become cautious and to mitigate their fears of the past experience where they (farmers) rushed into land preparation and planting with early rainfall.
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“Unfortunately, that did not augur well with the farmers as they lost their crops to the scorching heat of the sun.
“Yes, we have experienced rainfall in certain parts of Delta this January; but we are being sceptical not to begin clearing and planting until we have more and enough rains that could wet the ground enough to enable us plant our crops,’’ he said.
Mr Asenime said AFAN was working out modalities to sensitise the farmers in the state on NiMet’s predictions of early rainfall.
He said the association would equip them with the right knowledge on what to do at the right time to avoid the pitfalls of the previous years when farmers planted and the rains ceased.
“NiMet prediction is good; at least, we can reassure the farmers that with the prediction, the situations will not be the same as the failed years when we applied the rule of thumb.
“But there is no doubt that if we can plant early and harvest early, the percentage possibility of flood sweeping all our crops will be eliminated or minimized if we take advantage of the early rainfall,” Mr Asenime said.
While Asenime disclosed that the association planned to engage in all-year-round farming through an irrigation system, he, however, said farmers would need the government’s support for the realisation of this dream.
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