The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on Thursday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet), on downscaling of the Seasonal Climate Prediction to farming communities.
Speaking at the signing of the MoU in Abuja, Dr Ernest Umakhihe, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that the importance of weather information in agriculture could not be over emphasised.
He said that the downscaling of weather information to the farming community level, would also enable Nigerian farmers assess insurance products that would help them to adapt and mitigate the effect of climate change.
The permanent secretary said that timely weather information would boost the productivity of Nigerian farmers and reduce losses from adverse weather conditions.
According to him, the ministry has installed 10 Automatic Weather Stations (AWS) in 10 states to assist in data generation for early warning information to farmers to boost one of the objectives of the MoU.
Umakhihe said that weather information had, over the years, shaped agriculture in Nigeria in regard to the amount of rainfall, duration, when to grow, and the length of growing season.
“It is gratifying, the signing of the MoU, which will signal commencement of full collaboration, is starting at the onset of rains as forecasted by NiMet.
“NiMet’s Seasonal Rainfall Predication has over the years helped to shape agriculture in Nigeria with regard to amount of rainfall, duration, when to grow, length of growing season which will go a long way to increase the adaptive capacity of our farmers to changes in weather.
“Weather is extremely important to agricultural production, because occurrences of erratic weather are beyond human control.
“However, weather forecast assist planning of farming operation to adapt and mitigate the effects of adverse weather, if a forecast of the expected weather can be obtained on time.
“This is why weather information is very important and the responsibility lies with NiMet, who are to observe, collate, process and disseminate all meteorological data and information.
“I believe this collaboration between the ministry and NiMet will increase the number of AWS to be deployed to enhance the accuracy of the Seasonal Rainfall Prediction (SRP) as envisaged under this MoU,” he said.
Omakhihe said that the release of regular and timely annual Seasonal Climate Prediction (SCP) before the onset of rains as happened last month (January) by NiMet was well received.
“Working with NiMet we hope to use the weather information to develop crop calendar for our various crop value chains.
“Downscaling weather information to the farming community level will also enabled our farmers assess Insurance Products that will help them adapt and mitigate the effect of climate change,” he said.
Earlier, Prof. Mansur Matazu, Director-General, NiMet, said that seasonal climate prediction was one of the major focus of the agency as it provided precision of weather to assist in data generation for early warning information to farmers.
“We have conducted surveys and realised that Nigerian farmers, like average African farmers, are very knowledgeable and intelligent. If you allow them, on their own, they can guess the weather and climate,” he said.