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Don’t plant until rainfall is regular, agronomist counsels Gombe farmers

A Gombe State-based agronomist, Dr. Joseph Kaltungo, has advised farmers against rushing to plant their crops after the first rainfall of the year to avoid unnecessary losses.

Kaltungo, who gave the advice on Tuesday in Gombe, said farmers should always wait until the rainfall is consistent and stable before planting their seeds.

“The advice is necessary as it will protect the farmers from incurring losses in this year’s wet season farming,” he said.

He said farmers should start clearing their land in preparation for the rainy season, adding that the rainfall being experienced in some locations was false.

According to him, false rainfall is not the real rainfall but a signal to farmers that the real rainy season is around the corner; hence, farmers should only start clearing their farm land.

Kaltungo, a former acting programme manager in the Gombe State Agricultural Development Programme (ADP), urged farmers to wait until the rain falls minimum two times in a week and maximum three times a week before planting.

“This is not time for planting anything in Gombe State as anything a farmer plants is a risk.

“This is time for land clearing, not even land preparation as that will come when the rain starts and then people can plough, harrow and ridge.

“I am aware many farmers have planted millet and maize after one rainfall in certain locations in Gombe and they (the millet and maize) are drying,” he said.

He explained that the first rain was recorded about three or four weeks ago, and the crops were drying and that amounted to waste of money, time and energy.

“This advice is to help farmers maximise their profit and avoid waste that would result in losses and impoverish them,” he said.

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Analysing the prediction of the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) for Gombe State, Kaltungo said it was not good news for farmers, hence he urged them to be cautious and smart.

According to him, based on the recent prediction by NIMET, the state will experience late rainfall and early cessation.

He said the rain may not come early for people to plant, adding that hitherto farmers planted their crops towards the end of May to early June, but with this year’s NiMet prediction it may not be as usual.

He said with the prediction, farmers should go for early maturing variety that takes 90 to 100 days to mature or extra early maturing variety, which matures between 75 and 80 days.

“So, farmers should not go for their traditional grains that take 120 days to mature except for FADAMA area where such farmers have so much water to supplement the rainfall with irrigation.

“Any farmer who wants to go into agriculture this year must be careful in selecting what time to plant and what variety to plant,” he said.

He added that based on NiMet’s prediction, there would be a dry spell of about 15 days in July. He, therefore, urged farmers to be careful with how they handle the dry spell.

Kaltungo attributed the unusual weather condition to climate change: “When we use to tell farmers about climate change, no one believed us then but the reality is here for all to see and it is here to stay.”

He described climate change as the significant variation of average weather patterns resulting in extremes of weather conditions like excessive heat and high temperatures, and even flood.

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“This is the first time in the month of May that we are recording temperatures of 42 to 43⁰Celcius, meaning the temperature is excessively high; some call it heat wave in other parts of the country.

“Between 6.00 a.m. and 7.00 a.m., the temperature in Gombe used to be 28 to 29⁰C; this is extremely abnormal as we are supposed to have a temperature within the range of 18, 19 and 20⁰C.

“This is climate change and that is why farmers must now be smart by using drought-tolerant variety, disease-resistant variety in addition to the advice given earlier,” he said. (NAN)

Peter Uwumarogie
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