How 2018 Seasonal Rainfall Will Impact Farmers? Globally, accurate weather forecasts are a big deal. Millions of people make immediate, medium and long term life impacting decisions based on weather information and data.
This culture is also fast gaining traction in Nigeria. Weather information is no longer seen by the majority of Nigerians as an aviation or maritime thing but a resource anyone can use. Thus more individuals, farmers, health workers, transporters, telecommunications and even media practitioners are now using more weather data to make social and economic decisions.
Based on this consciousness, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) through its annual Seasonal Rainfall Prediction (SRP) is helping several sectors and indvidual make useful decisions. Some of these decisions are saving lives, properties and achieving economic gains.
This year’s SRP was publicly presented on Tuesday March 13th. Most of NiMet’s SRPs are presented in March ahead of the onset of rains to provide guide farmers, transporters, health authorities, telecoms operators and other make critical preparations.
NiMet said the early release of the SRP is not only to ensure effective harnessing of the climate resource, but to also guarantee minimal losses from associated hazards, which are becoming quite devastating in this era of climate change.
It is on record that 30 percent agricultural yields can be achieved if the relevant meteorological information is utilized, said Prof. Sani Mashi, the Director General, NiMet.
According to World Bank, for every dollar invested in early warnings services on weather, about seven dollars is saved from cost of disaster management.
Already, the Katsina state government at the 2018 SRP presentation said its farmers recorded more yields as loses were averted by downscaling the 2017 SRP to almost all the local governments of the state. Armed with weather data, Katsina farmers planted at appropriate times and didn’t suffer the losses that were happened in 2017 due to late onset and early sensation of rainfall. NiMet says it has capability to downscale its weather to data in all the states and invites willing state governments to take advantage of it for the benefit of their farmers and other weather information users in their state.
Highlights of the 2018 forecasts
Highlights of the 2018 SRP with the theme “seasonal climate forecasting for sustainable development” concluded that farmers may witness bumper harvests for the 2018 rainy season farming as the forecast shows normal rainfall will persist across the country. However, this doesn’t foreclose upsets and flashes of floods as the climate events may change abruptly.
Onset dates of the growing season
According to the report, the earliest onset date is expected to be from March 1st around the coastal region of the south-south. The onset date changes as we move northwards with areas around Maiduguri, Potiskum and Nguru predicted to have onset from June 1. The country is expected to experience normal-to-earlier-than-normal onset. Places like Sokoto, Bauchi, Kaduna, Lafia, Makurdi, Ado-Ekiti, Akure, Calabar and Eket are expected to experience early onset. While places like Yelwa, Bida, Abuja, Iseyin, Abeokuta, Lagos Island, Ikeja and Umuahia are likely to experience late onset. But other parts of the country are expected to have normal onset. Thus farmers are advised to plant appropriate crop types reflective of the rain situations in their locations.
Cessation dates of growing season and deviations
The report also indicated that the end of 2018 growing season is expected to commence from September ending. The earliest cessation date is expected to start from September 28th. This will occur around Sokoto and Katsina. The southern cities close to coastal states and those adjoining the ocean, with ample soil moisture, should have their cessation as late as December. Cessation of the growing season is expected to be normal across most parts of the country. Early cessation is anticipated over Jos, Ibi, Uyo and Ikeja. Cessation will however be a little delayed over parts of Ibadan, Ondo and Warri.
Length of growing season and deviations
In 2018, the length of growing season is expected to range from 117 to 287days, increasing from north to south. Thus, normal length of growing season is predicted for most parts of the country.
However, the report indicated that cities such as Yelwa, Bida, Shaki, Ikeja, Abuja, Jos, Ibi, Makurdi, Ogoja and Ikom are expected to experience a longer than normal length of growing season. This suggests that these areas may not worry too much about early maturing crop species. However, crops requiring small amount of rain fall should be targeted at times when the rains are predicted to be low.
Predicted annual rainfall and deviations
According to the SRP, the least amounts of rainfall, within the range of 400 – 800 mm, are expected across the extreme north such as Katsina, Nguru and Sokoto. Rainfall amount above 3100mm are likely in Eket and Calabar along the coast of the South East. While Abuja, Gombe, Yelwa, Bida and places along the Rivers Niger and Benue are expected to have annual rainfall amount in the range of 800 – 1600mm. Though most places are likely to have normal annual rainfall amount, areas around Nguru, Yelwa, and Ibi are expected to have about 5-7 percent above normal rainfall. But areas around Shaki and Abeokuta are likely to experience below normal annual rainfall amount in 2018.
2018 dry spell prediction
The probabilistic dry spell forecast shows that northern parts of the country like Sokoto, Zamfara, Katsina, Kano, Kebbi, Yobe and Borno are likely to experience severe dry spell in the month of June. This may last 10 to 18 days after the onset. Moderate dry spell that may last 7 to 16 days is expected around Yelwa, Shaki, Ilorin, Bida, Zaria, Funtua, Jos, Bauchi, Gombe and Yola in June, 2018.
However, the probability for dry spell in July is low. But areas around Sokoto (Illela, Gada, Tangaza, Isa, Gudu), Katsina (Jibia, Kaita, Mai’Adua, Daura, Mashi, Dutsi), Yobe (Yusufari, Yunusari, Machina, Karasuwa), Jigawa (Birniwa, Guri, Sule Tankarkar, Maigatari, Babura), Zanfara (Shinkafi, Zurmi, Maradun, Bakura, Kaura Namoda), Kebbi (Augie, Arewa Dandi, Argungu) and Borno (Mobbar, Abadam, Kukawa, Guzamala, Gubio, Nganzai, Mongono) will experience dry spell in the first week of July for 7 to 12 days spilling from the June dry spell, the forecast said.
Food production is expected to be good across the country due to the predicted above normal to normal growing season length over large parts of the country. NiMet recommends that stakeholders should take advantage of the prediction to ensure early distribution of inputs.
However, “the warmer-than-normal temperature conditions predicted the country from January to May 2018 may lead to water stress and outbreak of heat-related diseases among people and livestock” it said.
The predicted normal rainfall across the country may lead to stability in reservoirs for the operation of hydro-power plants, thereby enhancing hydropower generation, the report said.
The report also cautions that “heavy downpours and thunderstorms particularly during the onset and cessation may induce flash floods, reduce horizontal visibility, cause flight delays & cancellations, slippery road surfaces, etc. Motorists should therefore exercise caution while driving on highways.”