News, Opinion

The Consequences of Climate Change – Nigeria’s Agricultural Sector Under Threat

Nmesoma Okwudili


April 1, 2023

The agricultural industry in Nigeria is the backbone of the nation’s economy, contributing significantly to its GDP and offering millions of people jobs. Although crop yields are declining, food prices are rising, and there is a growing food shortage in Nigeria as a result of climate change.

Nigeria’s agriculture is being significantly impacted by climate change. The unpredictable nature of rainfall is one of climate change’s most significant effects on the agricultural industry. Over 90% of agricultural production in Nigeria is dependant on rainfall, making up the country’s primary rain-fed agricultural sector. Climate change has altered rainfall patterns, but this has led to crop failures, low yields, and higher food prices.

In 2018, the early start of the rainy season and the early end of the rainy season caused a significant decrease in crop yields in northern Nigeria, which resulted in food shortages and price increases. Similar to what happened in 2020, crops in the southern region of the country suffered greatly as a result of the extended dry spell and heat waves.

Pests and diseases, which can destroy crops, have increased due to climate change. The increased temperatures brought on by climate change foster the growth of pests and disease-causing organisms.

In particular, Nigeria has recently experienced a rise in the armyworm, a pest that destroys maize crops and costs farmers a lot of money. Attacks from pests and diseases have increased, lowering crop yields and ultimately causing a food shortage.

Additionally, the poorer soil quality and loss of land due to climate change have a negative impact on agriculture. It has become difficult for farmers to successfully cultivate crops due to soil erosion brought on by desertification and flooding, among other factors. Smallholder farmers in particular face difficulties because they are heavily reliant on subsistence farming and require more funding to put soil conservation measures in place. The ability to produce food in areas where it was previously possible is diminished as a result of the loss of arable land due to climate change.

The Nigerian government has recognised how climate change is affecting the agricultural industry and has taken action to lessen those effects.

The introduction of climate-smart agricultural practises is one of the actions taken by the government. implementing climate-smart agriculture (CSA) methods. Integrating practises that lessen greenhouse gas emissions, boost climate change resilience, and improve food security are all part of CSA. Agroforestry, improved irrigation systems, and conservation agriculture are a few examples of CSA practises. Farmers can improve their crop yields, maintain the quality of their soil, and lessen the impact of climate change on their operations by implementing CSA practises.
Utilizing crop varieties resistant to drought, conservation agriculture, and the use of organic fertilisers are a few of these techniques. In order to assist farmers in adjusting to the changes in rainfall patterns, the government has also made irrigation system investments.

The promotion of crop diversification is another potential remedy. Planting a variety of crops helps to increase resilience to climate change and reduce reliance on a single crop. For instance, farmers can adapt to the erratic rainfall patterns brought on by climate change by growing drought-resistant crops like millet, sorghum, and cassava. By offering a variety of foods to eat, crop diversification can also aid in enhancing nutrition.

The Nigerian government has also put policies in place to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Nigeria has made the commitment to cut its emissions by 20% by 2030, and has already started a number of initiatives to do so. These programmes promote sustainable transportation, reforestation reduction, and the use of renewable energy.

However, more action is still required to address how climate change is affecting Nigeria’s agricultural sector and the country’s food shortage. For the purpose of creating crop varieties that are more tolerant of climate change, the government needs to invest more in research and development. Additionally, more money needs to be put into irrigation systems to help farmers adapt to the shifts in rainfall patterns.

Finally, food scarcity and the agricultural sector of Nigeria have been significantly impacted by climate change. The unpredictable nature of the rain, the rise in pests and diseases, and the deterioration of soil quality are a few difficulties facing the industry. The effects of climate change on Nigeria’s agricultural sector can be lessened, and food security can be increased, by implementing climate-smart agricultural practises and encouraging crop diversification. To put these solutions into action and guarantee them, the government, non-governmental organisations, and farmer associations must cooperate.

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