Nigeria is one of Africa’s leaders in agricultural production. The country’s major agricultural imports include wheat, sugar, and milk. While their main agricultural exports include cashew nuts, cocoa beans, and cotton. Because of this, Nigeria places a lot of value on its farmers and urban agriculture. Here, you will have a greater understanding of seasons in Nigeria and how farmers navigate the climate for better production.
Throughout the year the weather in Nigeria varies greatly depending on the region. Locals say that for most of the country, there are only ever “two seasons” – rainy season and dry season. The farming sector accounts for more than half of the country’s economy. Therefore, knowing when to sow seeds such as cannabis seeds plays a major role in Nigeria’s production levels and profitability. Nigeria is a major source of West African-grown cannabis.
What is Growing Season?
According to National Geographic, the definition of growing season is the period of the year when crops and other plants grow successfully. The length of the growing season is usually 90 days but may vary from region to region.
The start of the growing season in Nigeria is between the end of July to the middle of September. From the month of July to the month of August, rainfall is at a minimum in the country.
Is Nigeria a Tropical Country?
It may be funny to think that a sub-Saharan country like Nigeria could be considered as a tropical country but in short, the answer is, yes. Weather in Nigeria throughout the year is hot and wet in the southeast but dry in the southwest and farther inland. Tropical regions tend to be warm year-round. In some tropical regions like Nigeria, the growing season can be interrupted by a rainy season. Because of this, the growing season can last the entire year.
Seasons in Nigeria
According to Nigeria’s climate map, the dry season here runs from the month of November to March. At this time, farmland along the coast tends to be extremely hot, even at night. In the north, the climate becomes drier and in the center of the country the days are sunnier, and the nights are colder. There is almost no rain in the north.
The rainy season, also known as the wet season, usually begins in April and runs all the way to the end of October. In Nigeria, the rainy season is the time for farmers to step up their agricultural activities. This is because many local farmers lack the irrigation facilities for dry season agriculture in many areas of the country.
How Does Geography Affect Agriculture in Nigeria?
When farmers refer to the geography of their plains, they aren’t just describing the location of the land but also the physical features within it. For example access to water, the kind of climate there, and soil types. All of these factors, including the season, are influential on how people farm in a region.
The geography in Nigeria has favorable climates for growing year-round. Nigeria experiences three major climates – savanna, tropical forests, and coastal wetlands. The average temperature in Nigeria is 28 degrees. The soil quality is medium allowing many plants to be grown.
Along the coast, the average precipitation is minimal but can double in some areas. In contrast, the northern areas of Nigeria get around 500mm of precipitation. This allows much of the land to be used for agriculture. No matter the region, Nigeria is prime real estate for successful agriculture.
What about Climate Change?
Like everywhere else in the world, Nigeria’s climate has been changing. The increase in temperature, variable rainfall, rise in sea level, and flooding are all evidence of Nigeria’s climate change. The more frequent these extreme weather events occur, the more the country loses biodiversity.
In regions where farmers practice rain-fed agriculture, they are more vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. Extreme climatic events such as flooding, extreme heat, and drought all result in low crop yields.
The decline in agricultural productivity can also discourage farmers and may lead to change in livelihood especially in rural areas. This can also lead to migration from rural to urban regions, therefore, affecting the development of rural regions in the country.
Nigeria Agriculture and Geography
When it comes to dry season farming in Nigeria, it can be very costly. Some farmers may request funding from the government, especially if the crops are cultivated on a large scale. Irrigation systems are expensive to buy and install but they are especially important to have in dry regions and during this time for successful growth. Support from the government is mainly used to purchase an irrigation system to save their crops.
Farmers located in rural areas have a harder time getting machinery repaired if they have problems. Sometimes, the government will provide these farmers with a number of tractors and other tools to help with production. But, unfortunately, there are no service stations to repair or replace parts for such machinery.
Soil salinity (salt content) and waterlogging of the soil is also a frequent occurrence in the dry season. The excess salts within the soil hinder the growth of crops by limiting their ability to take up water.
It is in the wet season, however, that a large percentage of farmers in Nigeria do most of their farming activities. Crops such as maize, cassava, groundnut, yam, potato, rice, tomatoes, cucumber, and millet are suitable for planting in any part of the country during this season.
The negative side of wet season farming is the lack of control farmers have. Thanks to the irrigation systems used by dry season farmers, they can control the amount of water they give their crops. That control, unfortunately, cannot be negotiated with Mother Nature. Of course, a good rainstorm or two nourishes the plains but excessive rain pour leads to problems such as soil erosion, crop floods, and slow production of crops.
But for many of these farmers, the rainy season in Nigeria is when they are usually eased of the stress of having to provide irrigation for their farmland and crops manually. And among the many crops that can be planted in this season, rice, maize, and yam are highly profitable and are always in high demand globally.
Final Thoughts on Nigerian Seasons
By understanding Nigeria’s geography and agriculture, we can have a better understanding of some of the challenges which impact its productivity. Fortunately, Nigeria’s wide range of climate variations allows the country to produce a variety of food and crops in both seasons. This too, allows farmers to diversify crops or have multiple harvests from the same plot – continually adding to Nigeria’s lead in agriculture.