By Louis Ibah
The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) has warned of low yield of agricultural produce for 2017 owing to an early cessation of rains that may have dire impact on the agricultural sector.
Director General/CEO of NIMET, Dr. Anthony Anuforom, who stated this at the annual Seasonal Rainfall Prediction (SRP) held in Abuja yesterday said Nigeria would be witnessing a year characterised by the early onset of very heavy downpour, which may, however, not last very long and a dry season that will start about October in most parts of the country.
On the 2017 forecast, he said there will be “an early cessation of rain in Nigeria resulting in shorter than normal length of growing season for farmers.”
Said the forecast: “The expected below normal rainfall for 2017 will pose challenge to enhanced food production and the Federal Government’s policy on food security and agriculture as a business towards foreign exchange earnings. Rain-fed agricultural production in the country this year would have to be supported with irrigation for farmers to get good yield apart from the provision of seeds, fertilisers and other inputs.
“Government should, therefore, take these predictions very serious to enable it meet its projections in the achievement of self-sufficiency in basic food supply and the attainment of food security and also in the improvement in the quality of life of citizens, particularly rural dwellers, resulting in poverty eradication.
Anuforom also spoke on how the 2017 weather changes will affect the spread of malaria in the country: “The process of mosquito birth and bites is directly influenced by rainfall, temperature and humidity that give rise to differences in stability of disease transmission.
“In 2017, we are likely to experience high to extreme mosquito population throughout the year and risk in mosquito population is expected to grow with the rainy season months. So for the first time, we are making this malaria forecast to sensitise citizens and health sector workers to better prepare to grapple with the deadly disease of malaria because in 2012 we warned of extreme floods in our forecast and people didn’t heed to our warnings and the country lost billions of naira in the agricultural and housing sectors.
Anuforom said the agency had achieved a 75 – 80 per cent accuracy in its predictions pointing to the extreme or humid temperature forecast for 2016 as having turned out to be true.
Meanwhile, Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, in his speech at the event enjoined Nigerians, especially investors in the agricultural and housing sectors, to avail themselves of the data provided by NIMET on rainfall for 2017.
He said in the contemporary age of technological advancement, it amounted to sheer display of ignorance for government and investors to discard weather forecasts in their planning and projections.