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Tackling climate change challenge

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Tackling climate change challenge

At a round-table meeting in Abuja recently, agriculture experts said that climate change has brought additional uncertainty and risk to Nigeria’s largely small-scale food system. TAIWO HASSAN reports

 

Indeed, the Federal Government’s clarion calls on Nigerians to embrace agriculture as a way of changing the country’s economic paradigm is already yielding positive results, especially with the involvement of the private sector in the country’s agric sector.

Nevertheless, the current administration under President Muhammadu Buhari has prioritised agriculture, solid minerals and manufacturing as key sectors of the economy in a push to revamp the country’s economy and make it economically viable for investment and foreign exchange earnings. However, there is no gainsaying that Nigeria’s agriculture is wearing a new face at the moment and this couldn’t have happened if not for the lessons the nation has learnt through the fall in crude oil prices at the international market, which dragged the economy into recession.

But it is alarming that despite the progress made in the country’s agric sector, one of the biggest and recurring challenges facing the sector is the issue of climate change, which is currently threatening investments in the sector.

Particularly, most of the investments in Nigeria’s agric sector are meant to make her the food basket of the continent, in line with the Federal Government’s diversification agenda to ensure food sufficiency.

This climate change threat to agriculture has spurred various international agric organisations to start rolling out schemes that would help to combat climate change and global warming in Nigeria and other neighbouring countries. Indeed, these schemes were designed to empower farmers to move to commercial agriculture from subsistence farming in order to realise abundant food productivity in Nigeria.

Climate change new report

However, at a one-day media-CSOs roundtable to unveil the West Africa Network for Peace-building Nigeria (WANEP) research on the ‘Impact of Investment in Agriculture and Climate Change Adaptation on Small Scale Farming in Nigeria,’ in Abuja recently, a new report on climate change revealed that Nigeria’s economic productivity could decrease by 11 per cent by 2020 and up to 30 per cent by 2050 as a result of climate change.

Particularly, the report said that while government is pursuing a vision of economic transformation and commercialisation with agriculture at the centre, small-scale farmers are not the focus of investment.

It stated that funding levels of agriculture and climate change adaptation are significantly lower than promised, stressing that money is skewed toward larger scale project and research.

WANEP in its report conducted in Kebbi and Adamawa states, in collaboration with Oxfam Nigeria, noted that the climate change has brought additional uncertainty and risk to Nigeria’s largely small-scale food system.

It noted that the expanding desert belt along deforestation have reduced the amount of land available for farming, adding that decline in rainfall at a rate of three to four per cent per decade has negatively impacted crop yields.

Post-harvest losses

According to the report, lack of rainfall and shortage of storage facilities in the country is affecting agric development and putting the country’s food security at risk. “A shortening of the rainy season means a fewer opportunities for planting and the lack of storage facilities have resulted in post-harvest losses to up to 40 per cent,” stated the study.

“Climate change could decrease Nigeria’s economic productivity by up to 11 per cent by 2020, and up to 30 per cent by 2050.Agricultural productivity is projected to decline by 10 to 25 per cent by 2080, and by 50 per cent in some northern regions.”

Kebbi and Adamawa States’ experience The report also noted that farmers in Kebbi and Adamawa States have been contending with effect of climate change and global warming on their farms and this has brought about decline in harvest and food productivity.

“A similar picture emerges in Kebbi and Adamawa States, where about half of farmers spoke of declining harvest, cultivated area and production yields due to climate variability and extreme weather events,” the report noted.

“Farmers are losing livestock, crops and vegetables are washed away in flooding and fish do not survive in warmer temperatures. Drought and windstorms are also causing produce losses, such as potatoes. These signify a loss of livelihood for these farmers.”

Small-scale farming challenges

The report also stated that running a small-scale farm in Nigeria is an uphill battle against many constraints, such as costly farm input; lack of information; limited access to technology; credits; markets and land tenure problems. It pointed out that there is a clear disconnect between policy intention and the services that farmers are actually receiving. The study said that there is a clear disconnect between policy intention and the services that farmers are actually receiving.

“Specific to coping with the impacts of climate change, about 69 percent of farmers surveyed had not received support, some of the support received was nongovernmental and more male than female farmers had benefited, said the report.

“Interventions that could transform the lives of farmers are being passed over in favour of large infrastructure projects and research initiatives. Half of agricultural funding goes toward capital projects and a significant proportion of this goes to around 40 training and research institutions.”

Recommendations

Consequently, the report recommended that the government should redirect investments to align with he needs of smallholder farmers, especially women farmers who face additional constraints in accessing agricultural inputs and extension services. It also recommended that farmers’ support to ameliorate the high cost of fertilizers, machinery, water pumps and other resource.

Last line

No doubt, the effect of climate change and global warming on Nigeria’s food production and security cannot be quantified in all ramifications looking at the current realities.

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