The early downpour of rain in Borno State in April could have been a “false start” to the rainy season and might have been the result of climate change and global warming.
This was the view of an agriculture lecturer, backed up by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency.
The normal rainy season is from June to September. The wettest month is August.
But the heavy downpour in April has confused farmers in the state, some of whom planted their seeds. Others are waiting for the “true” and traditional wet season to begin.
Bulama Fantami Goni, a farmer, said: “The rainy season has already started. In fact, we are in the middle of it. Some farmers have already planted seeds and they are waiting for another major rainfall to continue farming. We wanted to start farming here in Molai village but the military denied us access to our farmlands because of security concerns. We have not even swept or cleared our farms because of this. We will have to be patient until we are given permission to go to our land.
“As any real farmer will tell you, when you see experience major rainfall in whatever month or at any time, you just want to start preparing the lands because it means the rainy season has arrived. You don’t have to wait for June, July or August to start farming.”
Maliu Bukar Mainari, another farmer, said: “When rain starts falling, it means the wet season is about to start. Some farmers immediately start planting their seeds. But the problem is that the first downpour could be a false start and you might have to wait a while for the real rainy season to begin. So the farmers who plant when the first rains come could be wasting their time and resources because there is no more rain to germinate the seeds.
“I think every farmer should start preparing their land from about May or June, because this is the actual wet season and there are frequent downpours, so you know the rainy season has begun.”
Zanna Abba Kura, a lecturer in the agricultural technology department of the Mohammet Lawan College of Agriculture in Maiduguri, told RNI that the early rainfall might be a “false start” or the impact of climate change.
“There are advantages and disadvantages for farmers who have already started farming and those who are still waiting for the actual rainy season.
“Meteorologists predicted that this year’s rainy season would start early in May. But around March and April there was some rainfall, even though the traditional rainy season had not actually begun. This early rainfall we often refer to as a ‘false start’ or it could be a result of climate change and global warming. The major downpour Borno State experienced in April confused farmers who did not know whether it was the start of the wet season.
“Some farmers planted crops because they believed it was the start of the wet season. There are advantages and disadvantages to this. If the downpour was really the start of the rainy season, these farmers’ crops will be free of tall grasses, pests and insects and they will have bumper harvests. The disadvantages will be if it was not the start of the wet season and the planted seeds will not germinate and will dry beneath the soil, meaning wasted time, seeds and no bumper harvests.
“On other hand, the farmers who are still waiting for the actual rainy season to start will have to deal with the usual pests, tall grasses and insects, which could lead to small harvests if not managed properly. But these farmers will have benefited by not wasting their time, energy and resources.
“The confusion about the right time to start planting seeds that will germinate and grow well has a major effect on agricultural production and productivity, especially in places such as Borno State, because successful agriculture depends on rainfall. This can affect food security not only in Borno State but also in the country as a whole.”
A guide for farmers, drawn up by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency said the rainy season in the north would be between June and July. It said there was a possibility that the normal rain pattern could be earlier in some areas and later in others.
Annual rainfall in the Borno, Yobe, Jigawa, Katsina and Sokoto states was expected to range between 390mm to 790mm. But it warned that parts of the Borno, Kebbi, Katsina, Jigawa, Yobe, Nasarawa and Plateau states might experience severe dry spells that could last for up to 20 days or longer in June.
SHETTIMA LAWAN MONGUNO