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  • Nigeria Planting season: Few farmers to benefit from farm input in 2015

    Jun 17th, 2015

    As this year’s raining season commences, few farmers in the country registered under the Growth Enhancement Scheme (GES), will benefit from the Federal Government’s fertilizer allocation this cropping season.The Director of farm inputs, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Bolawa Osho, who confirmed this to National Mirror, explained that this was due to the priority issues based on the handing over notes.He said the ministry is doing a letter to President Mohammadu Buhari, on its past achievements of the 2013, 2014 raining season farming and they are waiting for the final approval and directive to start this year’s distribution.He said they are doing what is realistic to accommodate farmers from the Middle belt and those farmers from the North.But farmers, especially in the South West part of Nigeria, rather took advantage of the situation to start planting before the usual month of May planting season.Professor of Soil Physics, Department of Soil Science and Land Management, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), Felix Kolawole Salako, has explained that the rains starting in March is normal because it is actually the onset of rainy season in Southern Nigeria.

    He emphasised that it is only in the far North that it would be unexpected if it had started this April, while affirming that in the olden days the climate was more stable.“Rains become steady in the far North by June; so planting may start in May, June or July depending on where you are in the North,” he added.Salako, who is also Deputy Vice Chancellor (Development) of FUNAAB, stated that in Southern Nigeria, planting season starts with land preparation mostly in March and farmers do watch for steady rains before planting during this period.“With more than five rains in the last three weeks, the planting season has commenced and some farmers have really started planting. This does not mean that we do not have the risk of long dry period between rain events that can be detrimental to crops. We can only ascertain or predict this with painstaking analysis. I believe NIMET (Nigerian Meteorological Agency) is doing its best, but climate change can make the best of predictions go awry.”

    Surprisingly, some traders are already roasting corn in some parts of Lagos when the rains have not actually started. Likewise, since the maize is not fully in season, they are very expensive and scare.While reacting to this, Salako said the only crop that could be planted during the dry season is yam, but the early corns seen dotting the city of Lagos and other southern parts of the country were planted along riverbanks and wetlands.His words: “Planting in the dry season entails irrigation. Most farmers plant on wetlands or Fadamas, along riverbanks. They pump water to wet crops. Yam could be planted under rain-fed agriculture, and rain-fed agriculture implies dependence on rain. So it is practised in the wet or rainy season. And any crop can be planted as long as it is adapted to the agro-ecology being considered. Every agroecological zone has its own advantage for a given crop.”

    Chairman of farmers’ association for Lagos Chambers of Commerce Industry (LCCI), Prince Olawale Oyekoya, also stated that the frequent rains do not imply that it is the season of rains or planting, but the unsteadiness of the climate has greatly affected farmers’ predictions and also caused some disasters such as flooding in some farmlands in the state.“Actually, we are in the early season of planting, and I have farmers whose farmlands are already flooded. This is as a result of the blocked drainages all around Lagos. Though we are in early season of planting, is the government prepared to tackle the issue of flooding?”But the early rains seem to be a sort ill-wind that blows some farmers no good. A cashew nut merchant in Kogi State, Mohammed Demo, said once the rains start earlier than expected, it affects the quality of the cashew nut negatively.“The rainfall that started early this year affected the quality of cashew nut because we were still supposed to be harvesting. Once the rain is falling, especially the early rainfall, the quality drops,” he said.