Climate change and threat of food insecurity
This warning, which different experts and organisations have been sounding for some time now, was reiterated the other day by the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Foundation in a documentary themed: “Swallow: Food Security in Nigeria’s Changing Climate.”
Duly supported by the European Union, the Open Society Initiative for West Africa, and the Africa Development Bank, the documentary describes how the now-common upsets in the cycle of seasons—engendered by nothing other than climate change—endanger the country’s agricultural activities, including farming and the rearing of livestock.
The documentary also points out the deepening effect of an expected significant growth in population on the looming food security crisis.
The threat of hunger is made even more terrifying by the fact that the country’s population grows by 2.3% every year.
The fear, says one of the experts, is that by 2050, there will be 450million Nigerians and the worry is how they going to feed.
It is only normal for Nigeria to be afraid of a population increase, since it has proven incapable of feeding its current populace; and a country should know that it is in trouble when its response to its own enlargement is, rather than renewed hope, fear.
One sad aspect to this matter, to begin with, is that Nigeria does not appear to be taking proactive action with regard to climate change and agriculture.
The leaders of the country seem to not understand the importance of a clean and healthy environment, the availability of food, and the impact of the lack of food security on the political stability of a state.
Meanwhile these specific issues have led surreptitiously to the downfall and near-disintegration of nations.
Mohamed Bouazizi may have set himself ablaze in protest against maltreatment at the hands of law enforcement agents on the street where he sold his wares, but, according to a report quoted in a newspaper, “a host of new studies suggest that a major factor in the subsequent uprisings, which became known as the Arab spring, was food insecurity.”
Life is tough enough for the masses in Nigeria, and many have already begun to complain of hunger.
It would be foolhardy for government to think that it can safely assume and maintain a callous posture—as represented, for example, by the Comptroller-General of Customs’ outlandish statement the other day—in response to the suffering of its people.
The way to go is for government to see to the wellbeing of its citizens, not even only for the sake of those citizens now, but also for the stability of the nation and the safety of the elite.
Addressing the problem of low agricultural production, and therefore the threat of food insecurity, should be straightforward enough for a nation endowed with quality political leadership.
To start with, there is the need to use improved implements and tools, not just on the mega business level, but also at the level of subsistence farming and agro-industry.
With the obvious preponderance of tools and their accompanying lack of efficiency and productivity, there is a need to introduce improved productivity through the use of machines in the Nigerian farming sector.
Government also needs to adequately empower such bodies as The River Basin Authorities and Rural Technology Development Agencies to provide the efficient and comprehensive surface and underground water resources management that they was created to do.
In this era of shifting climate, when rains do not seem to come at accustomed times, it is important to employ modern irrigation techniques that have brought improvement in farm productivity in other places.
Furthermore, agricultural stakeholders (including government, farmers at all levels, meteorologists, and agriculture financiers) should take seriously the designing of and employing an agricultural calendar as a coping mechanism in these times of climate variability.
This will go a long way in making sure that farmers, especially the uneducated ones base their agricultural practices on the reality of the seasons.
Finally, even as Nigeria seeks to fashion ways to respond to the impact of climate change on agricultural productivity, it is important to also seek a turnaround in the attitude towards nature.
Climate change, or global warming, is nothing but nature’s reaction (or manifestation of its allergy) to the unscrupulous activities of caretaker man.
Since it is (at least partly) man-induced, it can be man-controlled.
Advocacy for responsible nature-management must, therefore, be stepped up. If global warming has begun to threaten food security in Nigeria and other parts of the world.
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