NiMet: weather forecast compliance to boost crop yield

The Nigerian Meteorological Agency  (NiMet) has disclosed that compliance with its prediction would boost crop yields by 35 percent.

The agency also stated that non-compliance to weather information has resulted in loss of over 350,000 hectares of land annually.

This was disclosed in Abuja yesterday by the Director General of NiMet, Prof. Sani Mashi during a workshop on how to support users’ understanding and use of weather forecast services in Nigeria.

The workshop was organised by NiMet  in collaboration with Federal University of Technology, Akure and the University of Leads, UK.

Prof. Mashi who was represented by the Director, Finance and Account of NiMet, Mr. Jigah Gabriel said compliance with the prediction will boost the economy of the country.

He said: “Available rainfall data from the NiMet synoptic stations clearly indicate that there have been great fluctuations in rainfall received in the different parts of the country since the beginning of this century.

“Also, food and nutrition security in Nigeria, as in most countries, is closely related to productivity in the agriculture sector, which unfortunately is one of the most vulnerable sectors to climate change, following high susceptibility of its key resource bases to climate related hazards such as flood and drought.

“I have been informed that empirical evidence shows that the paper application of agrometeorological information to farming is capable of increasing crop yeild by up to 35 percent.”

On the negative impact of non-compliance and the need to use the prediction, he said: “Nigeria loses approximately 350,999 hectares of land to drought and desertification annually, threatening the livelihood of millions of people, especially farmers while increasing frequencies of coastal flood and storm surge are taking over its coastline at the rate of 30 to 40m land annually.

“Such losses to extreme weather phenomena could be minimized by using early warning information such as NiMet’s seasonal rainfall prediction.”

Also speaking, the regional representative of World Meteorological Organization, Dr. Bernard Gomez said relevant stakeholders need to work closely so as to get the prediction to the end users who are mostly in the rural areas noting that a good forecast is not good if it is not timely delivered.

He said: “NiMet produces fantastic warnings but the problem is that the information don’t reach most people and that is what we need to focus on.”

Suggesting how the weather information can get to end users, the Programme Manager of Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) African SWIFT, Dr. Lorraine Youds said: “We are partnering with four African countries to see who uses the weather forecast that NiMet produces, how the forecast can be imporved and how to communicate with the end users to make the forecast effective and affect their lives.

“In Senegal,  they send messages to fishermen to tell them whether or not it is dangerous to go for fishing. So, we are trying to use good cases from different parts of the country to see if they can be implemented in other countries like Nigeria.”