What rain prediction holds for farmers in 2020


The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) has released its 2020 seasonal rainfall prediction (SRP). The prediction was publicly presented on January 21, 2020, early enough to enable farmers, medics, transporters, the government and other relevant stakeholders plan.

The prediction and the 2019 climate review had the title, “The Role of Climate Information for Decision Making in a Changing Climate.’’

Like previous years, the prediction included findings on the onset of rainfall, cessation, amount of rainfall, dry spell, short dry season and impacts on agriculture, transportation, health, the environment, among others.

But unlike the 2019 prediction which showed late onset of rain and early cessation, near to normal rainfall pattern is expected in 2020.

Last year’s findings had shown that: “As 2019 is anticipated to be an El Niho year, rainfall deficit, with varying magnitude, is expected for most part of the country, especially northward. This is expected to have an impact on the timing of the onset and cessation of the growing season. A shorter length of season is expected with below normal rainfall amounts. However, climate smart agriculture should be the watch word.”

That prediction had shown that the earliest onset date would be from March 7 around the coastal region of the South-South while the far northern states would have their onset from June 16. The cessation dates began from September 29 around the northwestern parts of the country; around October in Middle Belt states, and the coastal states had cessation in late December, 2019.

Although the 2020 prediction pattern is not a huge departure from that of 2019, it has variations that could impact negatively on farmers and other weather users if the warnings are not heeded.

Based on NiMet predictions, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said the onset (planting period) of the “2020 growing season is expected to be ‘near-normal or earlier than normal in most parts of the country.’ The earliest onset date is likely to occur on February 24 around the coastal zone of the South-South states, while states like Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara, Katsina, Jigawa, Yobe and Borno, are predicted to have their onset from June 2, 2020.”

On cessation, he said the predictions indicated that a “normal, to later-than- normal is expected across the country.

On the length of the growing season, he said, “A normal to longer-than- normal length of season is generally predicted across the country. In 2020, the length of growing season is expected to span 110-160 days in the Sahel region of the North and 210-280 days in the South.”

According to Sirika, the SRP also showed that a “normal to above normal rainfall is expected generally in the country. It is expected that total rainfall amounts would range from 400mm in the North to about 3000mm in the South.”

Presenting the general highlights of the SRP, the director-general of NiMet, Prof Sani Abubakar Mashi, said it also showed false onset of rain. But he quickly warned farmers not to plant with the early false rain but wait for the rains to fully set.

Speaking further, he said that generally, cessation dates in other parts of the North were expected to be in October, through November 5, extending to November 15 in Gombe  and Kaduna. In the central and inland parts of the South, cessation dates are expected in November, while the South-East, Lagos and the Niger-Delta are to have dates in December.

He noted that these cessation dates, in comparison with observed normal dates over the country, showed that most locations are expected to be near-normal.

However, he said that in few places around Katsina, Jigawa, Plateau, Kogi and Ondo, cessations dates were expected to be earlier. In Osun, parts of Lagos and Ekiti, cessation dates are expected to be later. The chances of occurrence of earlier and later cessation dates are relatively modest, he stated.

The report further shows that the coastal areas will have a length of season that may extend to 310 days as the growing pattern throughout the season is not expected to vary much from the normal across the country.

The SRP also shows that the variation expected in the length of growing season for 2020 is likely to affect a large section of the North-West, where places like Sokoto, Kebbi, Gusau, Kaduna, Zaria and Kano are possibly going to experience an extended length of growing season, which may extend beyond 7 days. In the central states, Abuja and Plateau could also experience an extended length of growing season.

On dry spell, the report showed that severe dry spell that may last 10 to 18 days is predicted over Niger, Bauchi, Jigawa, Sokoto, Zamfara, Katsina, Kano, Kebbi, Yobe and Borno in June. This may last 10 to 18 days after the onset, spilling into July. Moderate dry spell that may last 8 to 12 days is expected around Yelwa, Bida, Minna, Zaria, Funtua, Lafia, Bauchi, Abuja, Gombe and Yola in June 2020, the report showed.

According to the 2020 SRP, there is a moderate to high probability for dry spell in and around Ilorin, Shaki. Iseyin, Yola and parts of Gombe in July, that may last from 15 to 21 days. Also, areas around Bomo (Jere, Kukawan, Guzamala, Gubio, Mongono); Jigawa (Bimiwa, Dutse, Hadejia, Gun’, SuleTankarkar, Maigatari. Babura); Sokoto (Illela, Gada, Tangaza, Isa, Gudu); Katsina (Jibia, Kaita, Matazu, Funtua, Mai“Adua, Daura, Mashi, Dutsi); Yobe( Damaturu, Gashua, Yusufari, Yunusari. Machina, Karasuwa); Kebbi (Augie, ArewaDandi, Biminkebbi, Argungu) and Zanfam (Shinkafi, Zurmi, Maradun, TalataMafara, Bakura, Kaura Namoda), will experience dry spell in June, spilling into July, that may last up to 15 days.


Socio-economic implications of the 2020 SRP on agriculture 

Based on the prediction, NiMet urged farmers to avoid planting during pre-onset period. They should take advantage of this period for land preparation and procure inputs.

Farmers were also advised to adopt risk management techniques like taking insurances, as well as adopt climate smart agriculture (improve productivity, build resilience and reduce emission), such as soil and water conservation, water harvesting techniques, supplementary irrigation during the dry spell, the use of drought and stress tolerant seed varieties, the use of early-maturing varieties and gro-forestry.

NiMet also advised farmers to use weather and climate information throughout the agricultural value chain.

The SRP recommended that government steps in to help farmers with farming inputs to mitigate losses.

“Authorities concerned are advised to facilitate the provision of early maturing and drought resistant varieties to guard against the risk of crop failure and poor yield,” the report stated, adding that soil and water management is essential for maintaining the production of food crops and fodder under conditions, with high water stress.

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