The Director-General (DG) of the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMET), Prof. Sani Mashi, has warned farmers in the country to avoid planting after likely false-start rainfall expected in the year.

False-start rainfall, he explained, is a downpour that is not significant enough to allow farmers to start planting.

Mashi signalled the warning while explaining the 2020 Seasonal Rainfall Prediction (SRP) report in a recent interview with the Nigerian Television Authority.

“So, if farmers rely on the false-start, they are likely going to waste so much time, energy and resources in planting seeds when they are not supposed to plant,” Mashi warned.

The predictions report, which was released by the agency last Tuesday in Abuja, forecast, among others, a near-normal to earlier-than-normal rainfall on the onset of the growing season this year.

NiMET predicted that the earliest onset date are likely to occur on February 24 around the coastal zone of South-South states while Northern State of Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara, Katsina, Jigawa, Yobe and Borno, are likely to have their onset from June 2.

The agency, which also forecast total expected rainfall in the country at about 400 mm in the North and 3,000 mm in the South, added that rainfall is expected to stop the earliest around September 26 in Katsina and Northern parts of Sokoto, while the latest is expected on December 28 in the Niger-Delta region.

Also, the growing season is expected to span 160-200 days in the central parts of Plateau, Niger and Adamawa.
Enugu, Anambra, Ekiti and Oyo should expect a growing season of 210-260 days while farmers in Abuja, Kogi and Makurdi should expect a range of 200-250 days.

NiMET further predicted a severe dry spell to occur two to three weeks after the onset.

These dry spell or “little drought” as he described it, are predicted to last up to 10 to 21 days in Niger, Bauchi, Jigawa, Sokoto, Zamfara, Katsina, Kano, Kebbi, Yobe and Borno, in the months of June and July.

Speaking during the interview, however, Mashi explained that dry spells mean the condition could result in losses if not prepared for by farmers.

He said, “When this happens, it means even if crops do not completely die, they are going to witness some retardation in their growth period.

“When rains are not received for 10 days and crops are already growing, you can imagine what is likely going to be the consequences.

“This means that the expected output of the crop would definitely drop low. So, that is why we gave the advice that farmers should prepare for this.”

The DG also warned of expected “extremely high” night temperatures at the end of February and throughout March and April.

“The implications of this are that in the night, you are going to witness high temperatures in these periods. And this coincides with the time when people are supposed to go back to their rooms to sleep.

“This means the risk of contracting diseases that are related to heat is going to be extremely high within the year,” he explained.

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