By Sumaila Ogbaje
Abuja – The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) has advised farmers in the North to plant early maturing and drought-resistant varieties of seeds so as to avoid yield loss in 2018.
NiMet gave the advice in its 2018 Seasonal Rainfall Prediction (SRP), which was given to News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Friday.
In the SRP, NiMET said that farmers in Sokoto, Katsina, Yobe, Zamfara, Kebbi, Jigawa, Kano and Borno states were likely to experience severe dry spell in June.
It explained that the dry spell might continue for 10 to 18 days after its onset, adding that a moderate dry spell, which might last seven to 16 days, was expected in other places.
The agency also advised farmers around neighbourhoods like Yelwa, Bida and Abuja to refrain from early crop planting because of the predicted late onset dates for the 2018 farming season.
It said that the potential moisture availability during the onset period would not be sufficient enough for plant growth and development.
NiMet said that early rain cessation in areas such as Jos, Ibi and Ilorin was likely to create water stress, adding that there was, therefore, the need to supplement rain-fed agriculture with irrigation.
“Climate-smart agriculture should be encouraged, especially in the Sudano-Sahelian zone of the country through the use of economic trees like Gum Arabic, Date Palm, Shear and Jetropha, among others, for fencing.’’
NiMet said that zero tillage, mulching and other moisture conservation techniques should be adopted by farmers.
On livestock farming, NiMet warned that warmer-than-normal temperatures, predicted to occur in March and April, were expected to affect livestock production, particularly in the north-western region of the country.
It said that livestock mortality rate was expected to increase during these months due to temperature fluctuations, advising livestock farmers to acquire necessary vaccines for their animals.
NiMet also predicted that fish production was likely to be adversely affected as a result of the warmer-than-normal conditions, especially in the northern part of the country.
It urged fish farmers and aquaculture operators to take note of those areas which were predicted to have high run-offs in order to avoid associated impacts.
It, however, said that the annual rainfall amount of between 400mm to 3100mm over the country would positively impact on agriculture, power generation, recreation and manufacturing activities across the country. (NAN)