Our correspondent examines the role of climate change in agricultural production.
With emerging change in climatic conditions, the narrative now seems to be different for farmers, as the situation is from what was obtainable in the traditional system, where patterns of rainfall and dry periods could be predicted by an average farmer.
This no doubt has come with far reaching economic implications with attendant losses as explained by a farmer in Umuahia, Comrade Edozie Ikponze, who lost his investment in sweet potatoes due to excessive heat.
“Because of short of rain and over heat, we were not able to do anything, so all the money we invested there is a failure; even though we eventually went and bought some water pumps to make sure we cool the soil but at the end o f the day, the water pump could not do anything.”
A Director, in the state Agricultural Development Programme (ADP), Mr. Steve Agu, identified low crop yield and poor livestock production as some of the problems associated with climate change, which could be as a result of flooding, irregular rainfall and excessive heat.
“Those people that produce livestock make much gain during dry periods; beginning from September and November, we seem to be having excessive flooding in terms of sunshine because of the commencement of rain from February instead of may be March/April.”
Mr. Agu said research was being used to tackle the challenges associated with climate change and advised farmers to follow the pattern rainfall, with emphasizes on data from weather stations and go for high yielding farm inputs to cope with the change.
“The way the rain falls this year is alien, people should follow the rain, otherwise they will lose out.”
Chairman, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (ALFAN), Abia State Chapter, Chief Dunlop Okoro, observed that the climate change was still strange to traditional farmers.
Chief Okoro said the option was for farmers to articulate properly based on expert weather analysis, but expressed concern that some crops such as melon and maize required certain weather conditions for better yield.
Chief Dunlop Okoro wants government to be more sensitive to the plight of farmers and stressed the need for regular training and loan facilities.
“Let the problem of the farmer be reduced but when you see fertilizer selling at a very astronomical price, it is not friendly with the farmer; if you come in Abia here, you will see fertilizer sell at ₦6,500, it is friendly. Fertilizer should be subsidized to at least ₦4,000.”
In view of the effects of climate change, stakeholders are of the opinion that there should be concerted efforts to avert losses created by human factors.