FARMERS in the State of Osun have raised the alarm over irregular rainfall, saying it may affect food production that will result to food crisis in the State.
According to the farmers, there has been irregular rainfall since the beginning of the wet season in 2023, lamenting that cash crops were not having their proper growth as a result of dearth of water.
The farmers, in different interviews with OSUN DEFENDER on Monday, stated that the shortage of rainfall brought about harsh weather which resulted in the stunted growth in plants.
The farmers stated that if the prevailing situation of shortage of rainfall cut s across Nigeria, it would exacerbate food crisis in the country, particularly in the state.
Specifically, farmers in Ola-Olaluwa, Osogbo, Olorunda, Ayedire, Ayedaada and Egbedore local governments of the State, have begun to count their losses as their crops such as maize, tomatoes, pepper, jute leaves (Ewedu) and okro were affected by stunted growth as a result of shortage of rainfall.
According to some farmers in Olaoluwa local government, the area which is regarded as “the food basket of the State of Osun” was badly hit by the harsh weather and may experience low harvest.
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They stated that the irregular rainfall affected the growth of the crops and reduction in their yields since the inception of this year farming season.
Chief Wale Mayegun and Mr Akeem Olubori, who are farmers in the local government, said they had cultivated acres of land with the expectation of having bountiful harvests three times in the year.
However, they said their expectation was dashed as a result of the irregular rainfall which resulted into stunted growth for the planted crops.
Narrating his ordeal, Olubori stated he had planted maize and okra on about 20 acres of land at Idi-Oro and Olupo at the beginning of the farming season.
The father of three told OSUN DEFENDER that the maize crops he planted in late February had a lifespan of three months but an unexpected dry weather set in and stunted the growth of the plants.
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Olubori said: “My entire farmland for maize and okra is about 20 acres. I planted maize largely in February. I had an expectation of a great harvest in three months. Unfortunately, the weather has been dry. Rain has not fallen more than three times since I planted this. The temperature has been very high.
“I have spent more than N500,000 on the farm. I have steady contract farm workers whom I must pay at the end of the year. I should have been preparing to harvest at least 10 pickup loads of maize now. With this now, I am considering clearing these maize plants and planting another in the June/July growing season.”
This is just as Mayegun also lamented the shortage of rainfall leading to huge economic losses for the farmers.
“Rainfall has been inconsistent in the State since the beginning of the year”, he declared.
Mayegun, who farms at Iwara community, explained that he had cultivated 45 acres of maize farm with the hope of reaping 40 pickup loads harvests in May.
But the unexpected shortage of rainfall has drastically reduced the realisation of his hope, he lamented.
Mayegun said the prevailing situation would exacerbate food crisis, particularly in Nigeria.
According to him, reduction in crop outputs means the basic food would be scarce.
He said: “Without being a doomsayer, food crisis is not ending soon. The size of my maize farm is 45 acres. Normally, I should harvest nothing less than 40 pickup loads. But look at what dry weather has done to my farm.”
“The direct consequence of this is that the farm produce will not be enough to go round, and the population will struggle to get what is available in the market. Prices would go up and the poor who cannot afford them will go hungry.”
According to a publication, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency had predicted that a dry spell would occur in some parts of the south, including State of Osun, in April 2023.
OSUN DEFENDER learnt that a small basket of okra is being sold for N5,000, against N1,500 in 2022 at Odo-Ori market in Iwo.
Similarly, a price of a pickup load of maize now is between N150,000 and N180,000.
Commenting on the insufficient rainfall, Chairman of All Farmers Association of Nigeria in the state, Mr Kayode Afolabi, said the situation will invariably orchestrate high cost of food items in the market.
Afolabi opined that the shortage of rainfall has discouraged many farmers in the state to go to farm.
“Lack of rain at the beginning of this year farming season will invariably orchestrate high cost of food items in the market. People are also discouraged to go to farm because of the erratic rainfall.
“The solution to this is for government to involve more in irrigation. We are talking about irrigation to all our agricultural endeavours. By the time we apply irrigation to it, we will not rely on rain again. It will enable us to carry out farming activities with ease”, He stated.
The AFAN Chairman stressed that the quantity of maize planted in the state this year has not been encouraging as a result of the current weather condition.
Afolabi however appeal to the state government to invest more in putting in place storage facilities for future purpose.
He said: “The quantity of maize planted so far in the state is not enough for now considering the weather. We all know the government in the state is still new but we are trying to appeal to them in all corners to do their best in putting more storage facilities in place to increase food production in the state.”
However, an aged farmer, Pa Kazeem Adewole, who spoke with the medium, opined that the climate variability was God’s punishment against man because of sins.
“Too much of sins is the cause of this. I came to check my okra farm today because my people informed me over the phone that the leaves had turned yellow from green. When I saw it, I was sad. This is God’s punishment,” Adewole said.