FAO raises concern over deforestation in Nigeria

The United Nation Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has expressed concern over the increasing rate of deforestation in the country.

The United Nation Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has expressed concern over the increasing rate of deforestation in the country.

FAO Country Representative, Fred Kafeero who spoke at an inception workshop recently, said the 3.7per cent deforestation rate in the county is predominantly due to impact of agricultural activities causing environmental degradation such as deforestation, declining soil fertility, biodiversity loss and reduction of other ecosystem services. 

Kafeero said, the Global Environment Facilities (GEF) Food Systems, Land Use and Restoration (Flour) impact programme will consider the inherent potential of the Nigerian rain forest and the country’s need for cultivation of diverse agricultural commodities, like oil palm, cocoa and cassava in a sustainable manner.
He said, the project is targeted at restoring climate impacted landscapes and promoting the production of some agriculture produce in the Niger Delta region. 

According to Kafeero, part of government commitment is to promote sustainable cocoa and oil palm production systems and landscape restoration to deliver multiple ecosystem services adding that the geographical focus of this proposed project lies in a landscape area where over 50 per cent of the remaining tropical rain forest are domiciled in Cross River and Ondo States.

The FAO country representative further stated that the project will contribute to curbing expansion of agricultural activities in high conservation value forests and in the protection of biodiversity within the target states.
In his address, the Minister of Environment, Dr. Mohammad Mamhood Abubakar said the programme would address issues on livelihood and reposition the environment for the sustainability of continuous existence.

The Minister who was represented by the Director of (PRS/GEF Operational Focal Point) in the Ministry of Environment, Dr. Bolatito Obisesan said the focus on cocoa and palm oil in Cross River and Ondo States is occasioned by the observed increase in demand for oil palm and cocoa that has resulted in major environmental degradations in these states.

Obisesan said the programme is expected to focus on eliminating the risk of further expansion of farmiands into natural high biodiversity habitats and forests, and erosion of genetic diversity.

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