Dry season farming is the growing of crops by farmers in the dry season period. In the dry season in Nigeria, there is little or no rainfall.
In the southern forested part of Nigeria, they dry season commences in the month of October – November and ends in March - April while in the northern savannah of Nigeria, the dry season starts in the month of September – October and ends in April – May.
Farmers hardly grow their crops in the dry season because of the non-availability of water. However, few farmers who can afford to use irrigation grow their crops in the dry season months.
Step By Step Guide to Start Dry Season Farming in Nigeria
The following are the steps to take to start dry season farming in Nigeria:
- Choice of Farmland Site
- Types of Crops to Plant
- Types of Seeds to Plant
- Land Preparation
- Irrigation System to Use
- Labour Requirement
- Fertilizers to Use
- Pests and Diseases Management
- Harvest and Marketing
Dry season farming needs planning. Planning may involve the amount of capital to use, budgeting issues, computation of expected revenue, income and profit, how to efficiently and effectively run the farm and other issues.
Choice of Farmland Site
To engage in dry season farming, a suitable farmland site must be chosen. The site should have motorable roads for easy evacuation of produce. It should also not be a waterlogged area that will make planting of some types of crops impossible.
The site must be generally good for purpose, that is, dry season farming.
Types of Crops to Plant
Some crops do not yield well in the dry season. The month of dry season in Nigeria comes with low humidity. Crops that do not like low humidity may not do well in the dry season. If you want to engage in dry season farming, you should carefully select crops that you know will tolerate the dry season conditions.
Peppers, cucumbers, tomato, watermelon, egg plants, maize, beans and groundnut are some of the crops that can be planted in the dry season.
Some crops are known as dry season crops in Nigeria.
Types of Seeds to Plant
Some varieties of crops do not do well in the dry season. Take tomato for example, there are rain tolerant tomato varieties and heat tolerant tomato varieties. A rain tolerant tomato variety like Padma F1 may not do well in the dry season. This applies to most crops. You should only grow varieties of crops that can do well in the dry season.
Land preparation involves the removal of trees, stumps and weeds on the farmland. It also involves the ploughing, harrowing and ridging of the farmland. For some farmland, several rounds of ploughing have to be done to make the soil ready for seeds sowing.
For small farms, animals can be used for these tasks. For large farms, tractors have to be used.
Irrigation System to Use
Dry season farming mainly depends on irrigation. Without irrigation, no farmer can cultivate crops in the dry season. There are several types of irrigation systems that can be used in the dry season, they are:
Drip Irrigation System: This ensures the wetting of the root zone of plants through a slow and dripping release of water. A drip irrigation system consists of the drip tapes or tubings, submains, pumping station, Fertigation pump or venturi injector, connectors, end plugs and other fittings. It is the most efficient type of irrigation.
Rain Gun Irrigation System: The rain gun system is a sprinkler like gun that sprays water to plants while turning around. There are rain gun sprinklers with a radius of over 100 metres. A typical rain gun irrigation system consists of the rain gun, connector, tripod stand, hoses and pump station.
Spray Tube Irrigation System: The spray tube irrigation system consists of hoses and fittings that spray water to the crops. The hoses work like sprinklers. Spray tubes are also called rain hoses.
Flood Irrigation System: This is one of the oldest types of irrigation. It involves flooding the furrow of the beds of ridges on a farmland with water. It is not efficient and highly labour intensive. It can also lead to root rot in some plants.
Sprinkler Irrigation System: The sprinkler irrigation system uses sprinklers connected to hoses or pipes to spray water to crops.
Farm hands are needed for dry season farming. The use of machines and tolls can reduce the need for labourers and human on the farm. In Nigeria, immigrants from the Republic of Benin are usually used for dry season farming. They seem to love farm work than the unskilled Nigerian labourers.
For dry season farming, planting should be done in October – November so that harvest can be done before the end of the dry season. Growing crops and selling same in the dry season can be very profitable.
Few farmers grow crops in the dry season months, so those who can grow and harvest in these months will smile to the bank.
Fertilizers to Use
A soil test should be done before the application of fertilizers to crops. There are several types of fertilizers that can be used for dry season farming, they are:
Pests and Diseases’ Management
The management of pests and diseases is key if you want to be successful as a dry season farmer.
Insects and other bugs transmitting viral diseases are usually prevalent in the dry season in Nigeria. Good insecticides must be used to prevent and attack these pests and diseases. Mites are also very common in the dry season in Nigeria.
Harvest and Marketing
The dry season farmer should strive to harvest his produce in the dry season or at most at the beginning of the rainy season, this will ensure that he sells at premium prices.
Prices of food items and agricultural crops are usually high during the dry season months in Nigeria.
Advantages of Dry Season Farming
The following are the advantages of dry season farming in Nigeria:
- Dry season farming is profitable for farmers as prices of food items skyrocket during this season due to the low number of farmers engaged in farming.
- There are lesser incidences of fungal diseases in the dry season in Nigeria due to the low humidity during this period.
- Dry season farming provides employment opportunities for people.
- Dry season farming also increases the volume of food production in the country.
Problems facing dry season farming
The following are the problems or challenges facing dry season farming in Nigeria:
- Paucity of funds or capital
- Inadequate dry season tolerant seeds varieties
- Lack of irrigation facilities
- Inadequate farm hands or labourers
Do you engage in dry season farming in Nigeria? If yes, why not share your experiences with us in the comments’ section.