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NiMet, Agric ministry enhance partnership to boost yield

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Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) with Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security have strengthened their relationship to improve agriculture yield.

Both had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on 3 March 2022, to develop a dashboard for early warning, capacity building on accessing and interpreting information on meteorological changes.

The MoU also include the provision of agro-meteorological advisory services to farmers on specific commodities.

At a joint media briefing on NiMet’s annual Seasonal Climate Prediction (SCP) yesterday in Abuja, the Minister, Abubakar Kyari, praised the NiMet team, led by Director General and Chief Executive Officer, Charles Anosike.

He said: “Over the years, critical sectors, such as aviation, maritime, and agriculture have come to rely on Seasonal Climate Prediction published by NiMeT, usually in the first quarter.

“The reliability of the Seasonal Climate Prediction is indicated by increased recourse to weather advisories contained therein”.

The minister added that NiMet’s Seasonal Climate Prediction could assist in shaping agriculture with regard to information about the pattern and duration of rainfall across agronomic zones.

Anosike, thanking the minister for strengthening their relationship, said: “NiMet will build on the database of farmers. Already, NiMet disseminates information about seasonal climate prediction through engagements with farmers and through the media; BBC, social media, Radio Nigeria and through national television stations.

“However, gaps exist within the dissemination space.

“Our goal is to reach many Nigerians with timely, accurate, and actionable weather and climate information as part of NiMet Early Warning Drive”.

Anosike noted there would be dry spells in 14 states: Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, Plateau, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara States between July and August.

He said a shorter growing season was expected in Anambra, Benue, Enugu, Kebbi, Nasarawa, Niger, Plateau, Taraba and parts of Ebonyi, Lagos, Osun and Cross River.

According to him, Cross River, Gombe, Plateau and parts of Ebonyi, Sokoto and Kebbi would have an early end of growing season.

Anosike said it’s important not just to produce forecast, but to ensure farmers make climate-smart decisions in that regard.

Kyari said forecasts inform farmers about weather conditions, allowing them to adjust schedules and apply input efficiently to improve yields.

He added that NIMET’s predictions assist in shaping agriculture with regard to information about pattern and duration of rainfall, when to grow and length of growing season, as well as dry spells that could cause loss of investment.

This, he said, in turn, helps to boost the adaptive capacity of farmers.

He said “Regrettably, there have been farming seasons in Nigeria when farmers did not take advantage of the institutional advice from NIMET, and on their own misread the rainfall pattern, only to face dry spells that invariably ruined their crops and livelihoods.

“The added importance of the Seasonal Prediction Is highlighted by the vagaries of climate change worldwide. It is clearly the case now that the native knowledge and wisdom on which small-holder farmers often relied to cultivate their fields are inadequate under the relentless impact of climate change.

“Accordingly, managing climate risks in the agriculture sector through climate information and early warning services are important tools. In other words, integrating meteorological information as part of support services to agricultural production helps reduce losses to extreme weather events and also takes advantage to maximize the benefits of favourable weather.

“As we are all aware, small-holder farmers are primary and significant players in Nigeria’s agricultural space, with rain-fed agriculture being the predominant practice. But rain-fed agriculture is susceptible to elements of climate change, such as flood and drought, if no concrete action is taken to adapt to erratic weather conditions”.

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