Director-General, NiMet, Prof. Sani Machi
By Pamela James.
The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) has predicted early onset rainfall and early cessation in many parts of Nigeria, especially the northern part in its 2017 Seasonal Rainfall Prediction (SRP) and warned more Nigerians to be afflicted with malaria by increasing hot temperature.
With the prediction, the agency also noted that there would be early cessation of rainfall in many parts of the country.
According to the Agency, food production would be less than normal due to shorter growing season length over large parts of the country.
This was disclosed in Abuja yesterday during the public presentation of the 2017 Seasonal Rainfall Prediction which was unveiled by the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika.
Giving an overview of the prediction, the Director General of the Agency, Prof. Sani Mashi said: “2017 is expected to be a unique year as the country is likely to experience a wetter start and a drier end of the season
“The annual rainfall amount predicted over the country in 2017 is expected to range from 400mm in the far north to about 3100mm in the coastal areas of the Niger Delta while the cessation dates of the rains in 2017 are predicted to start from around 4th October and reach the coastal states around 25th December.
Continuing, NIMET boss said: “Rains might be heavy at the beginning but towards the end, the season will be drier which means that generally, rainfall will be below normal in some States including Yobe, Kano, Bauchi, Gombe, Kebbi, Plateau, Taraba, Benue, Kogi, northern Cross River, Enugu, Imo, Abia and some of the coastal areas.
“In some States, we are predicting that the rainfall will be above normal. In and around states like Sokoto, Zamfara, Niger Kwara, Oyo, Ogun and Adamawa.
“Aside these two categories, we are expecting that the rest of the state will experience normal rainfall.
Also, the Agency predicted that Katsina State will experience earliest cessation of rain.
“By October 4th, rain is expected to cease in Katsina state.”
On the socio-economic implication of the prediction, Mashi said: “food production is expected to be less than normal because we are predicting that the growing season is going to be shorter over large parts of the country.
“Since the rainfall will cease early, food production system has to be aligned properly so that crops that mature early can be planted”.
On the health implication, he said the shorter than normal rainfall in some parts may lead to water stress and outbreak of diseases that are related to heat which can also affect livestock.
Looking on the bright side of the prediction, the agency said: ” the above than normal rainfall that will be experienced in some States will lead to additional water in reservoirs and this can be a good sign as far as power generation is concerned because it means the potential for hydropower generation will be higher.”
According to Mashi, government should use the SRP to achieve increased food production and processing of export crops, using improved production and processing technologies.
Based on the forecast, “the expected below normal rainfall for 2017 will pose challenge to enhanced food production and the Federal Government policy on agriculture and food security as a business towards foreign exchange earnings.
Rain-fed agricultural production in the country this year would have to be supported with irrigation for farmers to get good yield apart from the provision of seeds, fertilizers and other inputs.
“Government should therefore take these predictions very serious to enable it meet its projections in the achievement of self-sufficiency in basic food supply and the attainment of food security and also in the improvement in the quality of life of citizens particularly rural dwellers resulting in poverty eradication.
“There should be job creation within the agricultural value chain and improvement in the quality of life of citizens, particularly rural dwellers resulting in poverty eradication,” He assured.
Dr. Anthony Anuforom, Out- going NIMET DG also spoke on how the 2017 weather changes will affect the spread of malaria in the country: “The process of mosquito birth and bites is directly influenced by rainfall, temperature and humidity that give rise to differences in stability of disease transmission.
“In 2017 we are likely to experience high to extreme mosquito population throughout the year and risks in mosquito population is expected to grow with the rainy season months.
So for the first time, we are making this malaria forecast to sensitize citizens and health sector workers to better prepare to come with the deadly disease of malaria because in 2012 we warned of extreme floods in our forecast and people didn’t heed to our warnings and the country lost billions of naira in the agricultural and housing sectors”.
Anuforom said the agency had achieved a 75 – 80 per cent accuracy in its predictions pointing to the extreme or humid temperature forecast for 2016 as having turned out to be true.
Minister of State for Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika in his speech at the event enjoined Nigerians, especially investors in the agricultural and housing sectors to avail themselves of the data provided by NIMET on rainfall for 2017.
He said in the contemporary age of technological advancement it amounted to a sheer display of ignorance for government and investors to discard weather forecast in their planning and projections.
The minister urged relevant stakeholders to take advantage of the prediction and plan ahead.