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SUNDAY PUNCH

BUSINESS

FEBRUARY 27,2011

30

2011 rainfall predictions: Food security and other socio-economic implications The Nigerian Metrological Agency on Thursday released its rainfall predictions for 2011. The predictions have several socioeconomic implications for Nigeria especially on food security; EVEREST AMAEFULE reports , ',HAT climate change is dealing a devastating blow on the economies of nations is to state the obvious, However. nations across the world are finding means of controlling the effects of climate change. Minister of Aviation, Mrs. Rdelia Njeze, emphasised this at the 2011 presentation of 2011 Seasonal Rainfall Prediction by the Nigerian Metrological Agency in Abuja on Thursday. According to the minister, the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme and unusual weather events, with attendant destruction of lives and property, are global events.

She added that the impact of such events on people could be minimised if they were predicted on time with adequate warning information issued.

Njeze said, 'The seasonal rainfall prediction provides early warning information on the

impending rainy season and will no doubt assist stakeholders in aviation, agriculture, environment,

disaster

risk

management,

health, water resources and dam operations to plan their activities for the forthcoming season in such a way that will maximise the benefits of the rains and at the same time minimise their adverse effects.

"It is important to note that early warning of weather and climate events, disaster management and planning can only be effective if the predictions reach the target audience in a timely manner."

security," It continued, "The length of growing ~eason for 2011 was obtained from the difference between forecast cessation and outset of 201l. From the prediction, the length of the rainy season in 2011 is expected to be between 90 and 270 days. "Over a large part of the country, longer rainy season is expected especially in the northern states. Because of the longer rainy season, it is important that full season crops are planted as soon as favourable conditions are established." On the amount of rainfall, the report said 2011 rainfall values would tend to be higher than normal over large area of the country, particularly in the North-Eastern part. "This is likely to create water surpluses in lakes, dams and rivers, for both rivers, hydroelectric power generation, as well as for irrigation," it added, Rainfall cessation periods are crucial in Nigeria since they affect both non irrigated agricultural production and irrigation demand from dry-season crops. Cessation date calculation, according to the report, is based on a daily analysis of the soil water balance calculated using appropriate crop model by quantifying when

crops for enhanced productivity and food security. It advised farmers to source and plant improved varieties of seeds, cuttings and seedlings for all crops commonly planted in the country such as sorghum, rice, soya bean, yam, cowpeas, cassava and potato. On livestock, the report said a good management of rangeland would help to achieve pastures for good production of fodder against the dry season. NIMET advised farmers to take necessary precautionary measures against diseases that were usually associated with excess rainfall such as Chronic Respiratory Disease and high humidity stress especially in poultry birds. Other threats posed by heavy rainfall include attack of grasshoppers, flower feeding insects, millets head and grain-eating birds and environmental related diseases on crops. These threats are expected to affect farmers in and around states in the extreme northern parts of the country. It advised relevant government agencies such as Agricultural Development Programmes, Local Government agricultural departments and ministries and departments of agriculture to provide technical and material support to farmers through adequate

The report released by Njeze and NIMET Director-General, Dr. Anthony Anuforo, raised hopes for farmers and others whose jobs and businesses depend on rainfall as it predicted a longer period of rainfall for 2011. It also indicated early rains for the year in comparison to 2010. The agency therefore advised farmers to water content of the root zone during crop provision of extension services to ameliorate the negative impacts. be ready to exploit the weather conditions, maturation goes down to 50 per cent. In 2011, the report said, the cessation On coastal and maritime sector, the report adding that if this was done, the nation should reasonably expect bumper harvest from the period was predicted to be between October said the prospect of high fish production and November. . • might be bright due to the expected above2011 farming season. The rainy season is expected to end later 'normal rainfall. According to the report titled Seasonal The possibility of rainstorms and gustiness Rainfall Prediction and Socio-Economic by up to two weeks than normal except in Implications for Nigeria, NIMET said nights 'pockets around Bida, Minna, Jos, Abuja, may exacerbate the prospect of coastal were likely to be colder in the month of Yola, Ibadan and Lagos where it is likely to flooding and erosion which may result in March particularly in the North-East region be up to two weeks earlier, the report added. landslide and loss of lives and properties. On socio-economic implications of the Hence, sensitisation of relevant security outfits while the trend would not be felt in the rest weather outlook, the report said farmers to ensure adequate emergency preparedness of the country. The report said, "The prediction shows could take advantage of the longer rainy for associated risks and fatalities," the report early outset ofrains in 2011 compared to the season for double cropping of crops such said. Njeze said the report should also be of normal (1971 - 2000) over large part of the as maize, cowpea and groundnut, and relay country except around Uyo, Ikom, Ibadan intercropping of such root/tuber and grain interest to health care providers. According "Rainfall cessation periods are crucial in and Shaki. "Therefore farmers need to be prepared Nigeria since they affect both non irrigated to sow their crops early compared to 2010, Judicious use of these predictions in planning agricultural production and irrigation demand from drycropping activities will lead to safe sowing season crops" and enhanced crop production and food

to her, the outbreak and spread of some diseases such as cerebrospinal meningitis, malaria, and respiratory tract infections are

affected by weather conditions, The report said the possibilities of increased air-borne diseases due to the harmattan dust haze during the dry season and the lower than normal temperature over some regions

during the dry season would reduce heat stress.

This may limit incidences of meningitis over such places and may make malaria parasites more active. Should heath services providers take advantage of the advisory, they should be able to strengthen their contingency plans. On hydrology, the report said the above normal rainfall predicted for 2011 over most parts of the country would impact positively on water resources of the various hydrological

areas of the country and its water-related socia-economic activities.

However, it added, the magnitude of the impacts would vary from one hydrological area to the other. It therefore becomes imperative for hydrological and water resources managers to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the predictions. The report also has implications for disaster management. It said excessive rainfall' ," '. might lead to physical damage to crops in the field and to agricultural equipment and structures as well as to roads, railway lines and telecommunications networks.

"It should be noted that wet spells and flash floods could occur even in areas with a likelihood of near normal to below normal rainfall. Also, loss of lives and displacement of large popUlations due to disruption of agricultural activities as a result of extreme weather is very likely." it added. On the implication of the predictions on the transportation sector, the report said poor visibility and slippery roads were envisaged during the predicted severe rainstorms. The report appears to have something for operators and regulators in all the sectors. In the words of Njeze, if it is utilised, the climate information will go a long way towards supporting sustainable development in various sectors of the nation's economy.


THE PUNCH, 27 FEBRUARY, 2011