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Fields awaiting stable rainfall: Issues Benue farmers worry about

Farmers in Benúe State have prepared their fields awaiting rainfall to stabilise before planting crops for this year’s farming season. The rains, according to many…


Farmers in Benúe State have prepared their fields awaiting rainfall to stabilise before planting crops for this year’s farming season.

The rains, according to many farmers in the state, had yet to stabilise for proper cropping season to take effect.

Farmers in Makurdi and its environs are yet to even till their grounds following delay of the rains while those in the hinterland of the state who have already witnessed onset of the rainy season are holding back for stabilisation.

A farmer, Jonah Iornondu, whose farm at Daudu in Guma LGA of the state had been prepared, also said he was waiting for the rain to stabilise before planting millet, maize and yam.

Iornondu said, “I have prepared my field. My seed yams are also ready for planting but the rain needs to stabilise so we can plant otherwise the heat still dwelling in the ground will render the seeds useless.

“I think by mid-April, the rain would have stabilised. Besides the rain, I’m also hustling for money to buy other crop seedlings for planting and chemicals to apply on the farm. I’m worriedly that all of these inputs are now very costly and beyond an average farmer’s purchasing capacity.”

Ekoja Adakole, another farmer in Otukpo axis of the state, complained of high cost of inputs, lack of money and access to quality seeds as he awaits the rainfall to stabilise before planting his crops for this season.

He said apart from cassava which doesn’t weary him to produce seasonally, the cost of production for other crops – maize, yam, soybean and sesame – are currently discouraging him from continuing with the farming business.

“I don’t think many farmers like me can afford the cost of production of several crops this year. I have prepared my field and waiting for three more heavy rainfall so I can begin to cultivate cassava and yam. That’s because I have those seedlings. As for sesame or any other crop, I’m not doing it again,” Adakole said.

For Onyebe Eneche, the onset for rainfall is all she is now waiting for to cultivate her field which has been prepared since March for maize, groundnut and cassava for a start of the season farming.

She told our correspondent that though the seed for planting were not yet ready, she was hopeful that everything thing possible would be done to acquire improved seed for her farm at the right time.

“It is all about money. I will do everything possible – including selling my produce in the barn – to buy the necessary seeds or seedlings for my field,” Eneche added.

Dr. Teryima Iorlamen, an agronomist at Joseph Sarwuan Tarka University (JOSTUM) formerly Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi (FUAM), noted that the rains may be stabilising in May, so farmers should get their fields ready for farming while they also get their inputs ready and secure a peice land if they are to lease or rent.

He stressed that according to the Nigeria Metrological Agency (NIMET), this year’s rainfall for Benue farmers required that they start planting in May when the rains must have stabilised, and in order to get bountiful harvest, they would need to use improve seeds.

“And I suggest also that the farmers plan now to buy inputs before the prices further escalate,” he added.

He suggested that for affordability, the farmers can access maize seeds, cowpea seeds and soybean seeds among others at the College of Agronomy at JOSTUM, adding, “We don’t just supply seeds, we do with agronomy.

“I stressed on this because some farmers don’t prepare on time, until they are taken unawares. Some of them even farm before going to look for seeds, sometimes if they don’t find that particular seed then they begin to change to another seed. They need to have their seeds ready, and the herbicides so that immediately grasses are coming out, they can tackle it.”

Iorlamen explained that, “If they get the seeds on time, even those who were planning not to farm, they will have to adjust and farm this year so that there would be much food next year to avert food crisis in the country. That’s why we are promoting this improved seed and we are available to farmers across the state irrespective of where they are located.

“As a university, we are working hand in hand with the Bureau of Agriculture to see that farmers in Benúe State benefit from farming. If farmers get improved seeds and yield to best agronomic practice, then, yields will increase. Concerning the growing population we have, there are going to be issues of food crisis, therefore, there is every need for every farmers to start working hard and planning to do farming as business so that they can earn well from it.”

In the same vein, Iorkyaa Nater, another agricultural expert in JOSTUM, stated that based on NIMET’s prediction of rainfall onset on May 22nd, smallholder farmers should primarily concentrate on preparation of their farmlands for the time being, and search for suitable crops and seeds among others.

Nater said farmers should begin preparing their farmlands ahead of the rainy season to ensure timely planting once the rains begin.

In the selection of suitable crops, he adviced farmers to choose crops that are appropriate for the rainy season and consider the local agro-ecological conditions.

Stressing on seed selection, he said they should select high-quality seeds that are suitable for planting during the rainy season to optimise crop yield.

He counseled on crop rotation, urging farmers to consider crop rotation to maintain soil fertility and prevent pest and disease buildup and that for water management, they should plan for proper water management practices, such as drainage systems and irrigation, to avoid waterlogging and erosion during heavy rainfall.

The expert advised on pest and disease management, saying that the farmers need to implement pest and disease management strategies to mitigate potential outbreaks during the rainy season while timely planting should be their focus as they aimed to plant crops promptly after the onset of rainfall to take advantage of optimal growing conditions.

 

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