The need to optimise climate information provided by Nigerian Meteorological Agency,(NIMET) has been identified as a way to improve agricultural yield to tackle food shortages in the country.
The Executive Secretary, Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA), Arigbabu Suleiman, stated this in Ilorin on Thursday.
Arigbabu was speaking at a day’s Agriculture Stakeholders’ Workshop on improving the provision of climate information services to farmers organised by HEDA and Oxfam in partnership with the NIMET.
He stated that the importance of climate information services to farmers in the country could not be over-emphasized, and that climate change impacts on the food crises and poverty induced conflicts experienced in Nigeria.
He said that the annual Seasonal Climate Predictions (SCP) and other forecasts from NIMET to the agriculture sector were parts of critical efforts to building the resilience of smallholder farmers in the nation.
He said that it was important for stakeholders to improve the dissemination of data and forecasts from NIMET for the agriculture sector in the grassroots.
“This programme is important to food security, our agriculture is climate dependent that is why we do seasonal farming.”
“Our aim is to mobilise stakeholders on how to properly optimise climate information being provided by NIMET to empower our farmers so that we can build resilience into our food system especially food production”, he said.
Arigbabu said government should help farmers to access climate information adding that agricultural research institutions need information on climate change in order to help the farmers avoid food shortages.
He noted that agriculture remains mainstay of the nation’s economy and employs about seventy percent of rural workforce who contribute a larger proportion of food consumed in Nigeria.
Mr Desmond Oyinlo, a representative of NIMET, in his presentation highlighted the importance of SCP to farming saying that it would help in agricultural planning towards food sustainability.
Oyinlo said the agency was ready to partner with NGOs, CSOs and agricultural groups on SCP towards ensuring food security.
Mr Mohammed Hassan, a representative of the Kwara Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that the state government was ready to bridge the communication gap among stakeholders.
Hassan said this would be done by updating its network base, engaging more agric extension workers and also building synergy with NIMET to ensure adequate information get to the farmers even in the remote rural areas.
Participants hailed the organisers for the workshop, noting that it has brought together stakeholders to rub minds, design a workable information system and in all help resolve key challenges confronting farmers in the area of climate information.
Miss Akinbolu Shukurat, Director Agrigold Farms Nigeria Limited, a participant at the event said
“This programme has been an eye opener, because most farmers don’t know about the Seasonal Crops and Predictions (SCP), most times farmers use their instincts to predict the start of a planting season”.
“This is an improvement in agricultural science, which can be of great benefits to farmers,” she said.
Ajayi Oluwole, another participant, said that it would be laudable if the government included SCP in it’s policy and yearly programmes saying because it would help farmers know about climate and how it affect their crops and animals.
“Agriculture depends on climate, be it plants or animals. Temperature and rainfall play a vital role, so it is important that farmers have access to these information in order to produce the best food crops and animals,” he said.
Our correspondent reports that participants at the workshop were from NIMET, Kwara ministry of agriculture, ARMTI, Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs), Civil Society ORganisations (CSOs) and farmers.