The Director-General of the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) recently argued that our country needs to use climate information more effectively, to advance our agricultural industry. Our CEO, Onajite Okoloko, has ensured that Notore serves as an innovator in this area, by developing the products that farmers require to create generous harvests in Nigeria’s challenging, changing climate.

Playing a role

NiMet Director-General Professor Sani Abubakar Mashi made this point, while speaking at a Senior Executive Course Programme, at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies in Plateau State. Explaining, he noted: “Effective climate information and services will not only transform agricultural production from labour-intensive high risk endeavour to knowledge based strategic enterprise, but will also enable sustainable utilisation of resources to achieve food security in the country.”

Agreeing, Mr Okoloko said: “It is impossible to deny that our land’s climate has shaped the farming sector. As climate change gathers pace, it will only come to play a larger role, so we will increasingly rely on effective climate information, to ensure we can grow crops and feed the nation whatever happens. Here at Notore, we have long understood the need to cater to Nigeria’s climate, so we have developed a range of products which help farmers prosper in these conditions.”

Changing times

The products we supply have already provided critical aid to farmers across the country, considering just how large an impact climate has on Nigerian farming. We live in a hot, tropical country with what the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation classes as soil which does not promote farming productivity. Our nation also sees erratic rainfall patterns, meaning that while farming in Nigeria can be productive and profitable, it is limited, as plants depend on regular rainfall to thrive.

We also have to contend with the onset of climate change, which as it is the world-over, is creating new issues for farmers. It is, for example, exacerbating the impact of droughts, making it harder for our people to stabilise food supplies. According to prominent Nigerian environmentalist Emmanuel Oladapo, our agricultural output could be reduced by up to 20% as a result of this phenomenon, unless we leverage climate data more effectively, to engender greater productivity.

Informing farmers

Continental news source All Africa reports, that Prof Mashi further outlined how data can help our farmers overcome the hurdles posed by climate in Nigeria. The Professor warned that it is vital that we take advantage of this data, as climate and weather patterns can determine how much physical activity is needed to cultivate strong crops, so we run the risk of failure if we do not use this information.

NiMet is already moving to negate this risk, by utilising the 100+ years’ worth of Nigerian climate data that is stored in its archives. This is giving NiMet the opportunity to help our farmers meet and overcome the problems posed by climate and weather variability, and produce bountiful harvests. The Professor suggested that the federal government could enhance NiMet’s efforts, by adopting measures such as using information communication technology to promote smarter farming practises.

Improving crop yields

We recognise that the nation’s private sector also has a role to play, in ensuring that our farmers can be productive in the face of Nigeria’s climate. We have placed ourselves at the forefront here, by selling improved seeds for staple crops in this country – think rice and maize. These are scientifically engineered to produce hardy crops in hot, tropical climates such as ours, even as conditions change.

Expanding, Mr Okoloko said: “If you do not understand the issues your customers contend with every day, you cannot supply them with the services they require to prosper. We have made it our mission to understand the challenges that confront farmers in Nigeria, which has led us to tailor our products, to ensure our customers can boost the crop yields no matter the weather conditions. As our land’s climate adjusts, we will continue to supply our people the products needed to enable food security.”

Nigeria needs to use climate information for farming
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