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Food Security: WMO Forecasts Longer Unstable Weather


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Food Security: WMO Forecasts Longer, Unstable Weather

The recent alert from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) about the continuation of unstable weather patterns until April of the coming year has raised concerns globally.

Highlighting the implications of this ongoing climate phenomenon, Professor Samuel Olakojo, an esteemed agriculture expert and plant breeder, has emphasized the need for proactive measures to counter potential food insecurity.

His insights and recommendations, directed towards both farmers and government agencies, aim to safeguard agricultural practices amidst this unpredictable weather forecast.

In a news release issued by Sarah Odu, the WMO Communication Assistant, El Nino—a recurring rise of sea surface temperatures in some areas of the Pacific Ocean—is blamed for the current unsteady weather.

This phenomenon, anticipated to persist until April 2024, poses a significant risk to global food supplies, public health, and economic stability.

While acknowledging the acute impact anticipated in South and East Asia, Professor Olakojo highlighted the potential for Nigeria to enhance its food security through strategic actions.

Professor Olakojo’s recommendations center around agronomic practices tailored for such conditions.

He advises Nigerian farmers to focus on cultivating crops with shorter maturity periods, including cassava, early maturity maize, yam, fruits, leafy vegetables, potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, cowpeas, rice, and other crops that can be harvested within a three-month window.

Emphasising the importance of constant weeding and effective control of pests and fungal diseases, he underscores the significance of these measures during unstable weather patterns.

In his comprehensive text titled “El Nino Event and Its Implications on Agriculture, Food Security/Nutritional Security, and Human Life,” Professor Olakojo elaborates on the nature of El Nino, its historical context, and its effects on global weather patterns.

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El Nino-Southern Oscillation’s warm phase produces a variety of effects, such as heat waves, droughts, heavy rains, and erratic climate shifts. It stands out due to its frequent occurrence and impact on atmospheric circulation and storms.

The implications for agricultural food production are substantial. Heat waves, droughts, and erratic rainfall patterns can profoundly impact human life, livestock, and crop productivity. However, amidst these challenges, there are opportunities.

For instance, heavy rains could benefit tropical environments by supporting irrigation and sustaining continuous food production.

For Nigerian farmers facing such conditions, Professor Olakojo’s advice extends to various sectors:

Agricultural Practices:

  1. Arable Farmers: Focus on planting crops with shorter maturity periods, alongside stringent measures for weed control, pest management, and soil fertility.
  2. Tree and Plantation Farming: This period offers favorable conditions for plantation crops like cocoa, oil palm, rubber, mangoes, citrus fruits, bananas, and plantains, with an emphasis on disease control and nursery establishment.
  3. Livestock Farmers: Cattle farmers can utilize the continuous growth of wild grasses, while pig farmers may need fast-growing trees to manage the heat and humidity. Fish farms require vigilance against flooding, necessitating strategic planting around ponds.
  4. Food Processing and Storage: Challenges may arise in grain processing due to atmospheric moisture. Precautions against mold growth in cereals are essential.

Governmental Interventions:

The government’s role is crucial in mitigating the impact on agriculture and ensuring national food security.

  1. Implementation of Policies: Immediate action in distributing seeds, farming inputs, and implements is imperative.
  2. Extension Services: Facilitating extension services, especially through electronic platforms, becomes essential in the absence of active agricultural development programs.
  3. Pest and Disease Control: Preparedness for potential outbreaks is vital, necessitating monitoring and intervention plans.
  4. Strategic Stockpiling: The acquisition of excess grains for storage in silos anticipates future needs.
  5. Border Monitoring: Strict surveillance of borders to prevent unauthorized exportation of food is critical during this period of potential scarcity.
  6. Subsidies and Investment: Investing in agriculture and food production through subsidies becomes crucial, aligning with the necessity of prioritizing national food security.
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Professor Olakojo’s insights underscore the significance of proactive measures at both individual and governmental levels to navigate the challenges posed by the prolonged unstable weather.

In adopting these recommendations, Nigeria stands to strengthen its food security amidst the unpredictability of El Nino’s effects on global weather patterns.

 

 


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