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Farmers explore alternatives as irregular rainfall threatens production


Irregular and changing rainfall patterns are causing widespread fear amongst farmers as farmers gather in groups to seek spiritual assistance, Businessday investigation shows.

The investigation showed that most of the farms in the South-West, especially those farmers that planted early  in the year are worst affected as the crops are wilting away even as some are already drying due to irregular and changing rainfall patterns.

Michael Adenigbagbe a cucumber farmer, in an interview with BusinessDay, said “I have being going to the church to pray for rainfall. I farm cucumber and it needs a lot of water for my plant to grow well and it has not been raining since July.”

“If I knew the rains will not be falling I would have done irrigation farming. Since I did not farm with irrigation, I will prayerfully wait for the rains,” he adds.

Another farmer, Africanfarmer Mogaji, chief executive officer, X-Ray Farms , said, “Yam farmers gather in their cluster for community prayers to pray for rainfall in Sepeteri, Oyo state recently.”

Mogaji further stated “It is a very serious matter when you see farmers gather in their clusters to pray for rainfall.  The last corn planting for the year is usually in July but now, it did not rain properly in July and now we are in August which is August break, most of the farmers are praying for rains.”

This is the case of most farmers across the country who did not farm using irrigation.  Food prices have also been on the increase across the country and it may even increase further at the end of the year due to poor harvest farmers are likely experience as irregular rainfalls continues, according to industry watchers. “Tomatoes reached an all time high this year selling between N30, 000 to N34, 000 for a 50kg basket and climate change is part of the problem,” Mogaji said.

Consumer inflation rose to 9.2 percent year- on- year in July at the same rate for the second consecutive month as a result of muted rises in the food and non alcoholic beverages, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

Food inflation remained at 10 per cent year-on-year in July, unchanged from June, as slower increases in the some food categories such as meat and fruits weighed on the index, it said.

A total of N738 billion worth of agricultural products was imported into the country in the first quarter 2015, NBS said in its latest foreign trade reports.

Josephine Okojie