• Wednesday, June 12, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Exclusive: Plateau farmers raise alarm over inadequate rainfall threatening crops yields

Exclusive: Plateau farmers raise alarm over inadequate rainfall threatening crops yields

The Plateau’s fertile lands have long been a source of sustenance for its inhabitants, providing an abundance of crops and livelihoods for farmers. However, a looming crisis threatens to disrupt this delicate balance as farmers in the state raise concerns over inadequate rainfall jeopardizing their yields.

This narrative unfolds against a backdrop of changing climate patterns and the vulnerability of agricultural communities to the caprices of nature.

In the villages on the Plateau, where agriculture is not just a means of livelihood but a way of life, farmers have sounded the alarm bells. With each passing day of scanty clouds and dry soils, the anxiety grows palpable among these custodians of the land.

Speaking to our correspondents, local farmers lament the erratic rainfall patterns that have left their crops thirsting for water, with some facing the grim reality of withering fields and diminished harvests.

In a chat to BusinessDay in Wase local government area of the state, Ibrahim Musa a seasoned farmer and community leader, lamented, “We are facing an unprecedented crisis here on the Plateau. The inadequate rainfall we have been experiencing has decimated our crops, leaving us teetering on the brink of ruin.”

The plight of these farmers is not merely a local concern but a harbinger of broader implications for food security and economic stability. With each passing day of scant rainfall, the spectre of food scarcity looms larger, casting a shadow over the livelihoods of both farmers and consumers alike.

Grace Hannatu, a maize farmer in Rukuba, Bassa local government area grappling with the harsh reality of water scarcity, shared, “Our crops are our sustenance, our livelihoods. Without adequate rainfall, our fields wither, and our hopes for a bountiful harvest fade away. The impact of this crisis reverberates far beyond our farm gates.”

John Wuyep, the chairman of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) Plateau state chapter, highlighted the dire impact of climate change on agricultural productivity.

In an interview with BusinessDay in Jos, he emphasized that the scarcity of rainfall has not only affected crop growth but has also led to a surge in insect populations, resulting in the widespread destruction of vegetables such as tomatoes and peppers.

He added that the economic challenges facing the country, including the high cost of irrigation due to the need to purchase petrol, exacerbate the situation for farmers.

Wuyep further lamented the consequences of erratic rainfall patterns on farmers, noting that early planters are forced to replant if rains arrive late.

Despite government initiatives, which have yet to yield results, he urged for proactive measures to address the prevailing challenges. Wuyep advised farmers to pray for timely and sustained rainfall while also encouraging them to focus on planting early maturing crops as forecasts suggest delayed and shortened rainy seasons.

“Climate change is not just because there is a shortage of rain, it has multiplied the insects, and the worms are consuming most of the vegetables now. That is why you see the shortage of virtually all vegetables, especially tomatoes, Peppers and others. And the economic situation in the country also, especially, if you are even going to do irrigation, it involves buying petrol and others.

“Those who have done early planting have to replant again if the rains come. We are talking with the government, even the programs the government have put in place, they have not even done one. We are still waiting to see what will happen. And you see this one happening now is nature.We are praying that if the rains come, it will continue and our people will plant so that we have something. I advice my members to continue praying and especially look for early yielding crops to plant because the focus is showing that the rains will come late and go early”.

Impact on livelihoods

The repercussions of this water scarcity reverberate far and wide, striking not just at the heart of the farming communities but also at the economic sustenance of the state.

As staple crops like maize, sorghum and others struggle to take root, the spectre of food insecurity looms large over a populace heavily reliant on these harvests for sustenance. With livelihoods at stake and incomes in jeopardy, the cascading effects of this agricultural crisis are felt across the social fabric of the Plateau.

Climate change and vulnerability

Climate change stands as an ominous backdrop to this unfolding narrative, with its fingerprints evident in the altered rainfall patterns and extreme weather events plaguing the state.

As global temperatures rise and weather systems become increasingly erratic, the vulnerability of agricultural communities like those on the Plateau is starkly illuminated. Calls for sustainable farming practices and climate-resilient agriculture grow louder amidst the pressing need for adaptation and mitigation strategies.

Government response and call to action

As the state grapples with inadequate rainfall affecting farming, concerns continue to rise among farmers as they seek information on measures to improve irrigation techniques amidst the rainfall deficit.

Efforts to obtain input on the matter remain unsuccessful at the time of filing this report, as Ishaku Bugama, the Plateau state commissioner for Agriculture did not respond to calls or text messages from our correspondent regarding the government’s plans to address the situation.

In the face of this mounting crisis, the onus falls on both local and national authorities to heed the calls of these farmers in distress. Urgent appeals for intervention, including provisions for irrigation infrastructure, drought-resistant seed varieties, and agricultural extension services, dot the landscape of pleas emanating from the farmers on the Plateau.