‘Wrong rainfall predictions ruined our hope of bountiful harvests’



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‘Wrong rainfall predictions ruined our hope of bountiful harvests’

Wrong rainfall predictions and lack of knowledge of irrigation methods have cost maize farmers in Oke-gun area of Oyo colossal loss as their crops withered, resulting in bad harvest, reports KUNLE AKINRINADE.



 

PA Mufutau Adeoye, a maize farmer in Oke-Ogun area of Oyo State, is singing sorrowful songs after his hope of a bountiful maize harvest was dashed by failed rain forecast and the agriculture loan it led him to take from a microfinance bank. Regretting what he now deems as the wrongful decision to go for the facility aimed at boosting his endeavour-farming, he said: “My whole world has collapsed. All the maize I planted this year withered. It is the worst year I have experienced as a farmer.”



Pa Adeoye’s colleague in Iseyin, Alhaji Ramoni Oyelade, also lamented the reversal in his farming fortunes as he recalled how previous harvests had brought him joy.

Oyelade said: “It was not like this in 2019, when I reaped greatly from my maize farm. This year has brought me untold pain and debt.

“I couldn’t take anything away from my farm. All the maize I borrowed money to plant dried off, leaving me with no harvest at all.”

Like Adeoye and Oyelade, Elder Mathew Adegoke, an Iseyin-based farmer, also bemoaned his fate, saying: “How do I explain that I have nothing to show for one year of toiling to ensure a great harvest?

“I had a bad harvest. The maize I planted this year shriveled due to lack of adequate rain water.

“I don’t know how I am going to get money to pay my son’s school fees next year. He is an undergraduate at Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomosho.

“I was hoping to use part of the proceeds of this year’s harvest to pay the fees, but I am left with nothing as a result of bad harvest caused by lengthy rain breaks.”

 

How climate change hampered rainfall predictions

In a prediction released earlier in February this year, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet), the volume of rainfall for the Southwest region in 2020 was estimated at about 3000mm. The figure is a shortfall compared to rainfall data in the past years.

According to NiMet, “a normal to above normal” rainfall was expected generally in the country.

The agency further predicted rainfall events that could be enormous and tend to give a false start of the season before full establishment of the onset of planting season over various ecological zones.

“Such rainfall events are not uncommon. However, their frequency seems to be on the rise,” the report said.

The meteorological agency also predicted severe effect of a short dry season over the coast of Lagos, Ijebu-Ode, Ibadan, Shaki, Akure, Ilorin, Iseyin, Ado-Ekiti, Benin, Lokoja and Enugu, which the agency said would last for about 10 to 25 days.

Rains usually peak between the months of June and July, while farmers normally seize the August break to consummate planting. The agency’s prediction failed as rainfall ceased in many of the listed areas since June, leaving the farmers to their fate.

The breaks (stoppage of rainfall) which started between late June and early July lasted several months.

Pa Adeoye said: “The pattern of rainfall had been poor since the beginning of the year until the government agency predicted short dry season. Hence, like other maize farmers, I was happy and moved to seize the opportunity to quickly clear my farmland in preparation for the return of rainfall.

“Unfortunately for me and many others, the prediction failed and I have nothing to show for my huge planting.

“The prolonged break in rainfall is strange to me. It started in late June and lasted beyond October, contrary to predictions made by NiMet that the break would last barely three weeks. The situation is responsible for my woes.”

Also licking his wounds from what he called his worst harvest ever, Elder Adegoke said he would be having a solemn Yuletide celebration, unlike in the past when he would buy a cow and throw a big feast in his community.

He said: “I am a well known Christian leader in my community. I normally kill a fat cow and throw a big New Year party. But I cannot do that this year because of the monumental loss I have suffered from bad harvest arising from rainfall shortage.

“I have decided to have a quiet celebration this time around because I still have to repay the loan I took to boost my maize farming a few months ago.”

 

Farmers under burden of loan repayment

A number of the affected farmers are battling with repayment of loans they took to undertake maize planting destroyed by inadequate rainfall.

Despite the misfortune caused by the futile downpour prediction, 70-year-old Pa Adeoye still has a big hurdle before him—loan repayment—which according to him is causing him sleepless nights and spiking his blood pressure.

“Despite the doctor’s warning that I should have enough rest, I cannot just sleep well, and it has affected my blood pressure because of the loan I took from a microfinance bank to boost my maize farm.

“The bank gave me a loan of N100,000, which I expended on paying workers’ wages and purchase of maize seeds, among others, but everything has gone down the drain because it failed to rain as predicted.”

Oyelade echoed Adeoye, lamenting that the money lender he took a loan from had started breathing down his neck.

He said: “The repayment terms I entered into with the money lender was to refund the loan I took from him by the first week of this month (December), thinking that I would have harvested my maize, sell them and make money. But the reverse has been the case.

“Now, I don’t have the money to pay back the loan and I am in a quandary as to the next line of action.

“I want to urge the government to rescue us from hopelessness by giving us money as compensation for our losses this year and to carry out farming activities in earnest next year.”

On his part, Adegoke said he had renegotiated the terms for the repayment of the loan from a local money lender after the latter had harassed him for a refund of the short term loan.

“The repayment term for the short term loan a money lender gave me has since been renegotiated after it became clear to the lender that I could not defray the money because of the huge loss I suffered this framing season.

‘Wrong rainfall predictions ruined our hope of bountiful harvests’

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