Climate Change, Agriculture, and Development in Nigeria

Impact of Climate Change on Agriculture and Development in Nigeria

The objective of this post was to examine the effects/impacts of climate change on agriculture, economic growth and development in Nigeria.

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Climate Change

Climate change refers to a change in climate over a long period of time that alters the composition of the global atmosphere. The change in climate could be due to human activity or due to natural variability.

In recent times, climate change has manifested in different climate parameters including rainfall, temperature, sea levels, cloud cover, and vapour pressure.

The observed changes in climate parameters affect different sectors of the economy such as energy, health, water resources, agriculture, etc.

The major cause of climate change constitutes human activities such as increased industrialization that have resulted in emission of enormous amounts of greenhouse gases (GHGs) into the atmosphere.

Though climate change affects all nations, the developing ones especially those in Africa are the most vulnerable to climate change impacts.

Unfortunately, Africa contributes less than five percent of the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change; yet, is most vulnerable to the impacts of the change. The reason is because these countries’ agriculture is dependent on rain, and the countries are less able to adapt to extreme weather events.

Green house gases include carbon (IV) oxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O). These gases are the primary causes of global warming.

Effects of Climate Change in Nigeria

In Nigeria, there is growing interest on the likely impacts of climate change on agriculture, economic growth and sustainable development.

1. Agriculture:

Agriculture is the main victim of climate change impacts. This is disturbing because agriculture contributes significantly to employment, livelihoods sustenance and poverty reduction in Nigeria (and other developing countries).

Incidences of climate change include changes in atmospheric temperatures, unprecedented droughts, yield of crops and animals, soil quality and soil moisture, weed insurgence, crop resilience, sea level rises, flooding, timing/length of growing seasons, etc.

In the humid regions of southern Nigeria, there are projections of increases in rainfall; whereas, the savannah areas of northern Nigeria were projected to experience less rainfall, which coupled with temperature increases, reduces soil moisture availability.

Increased temperatures and accompanying reduction in water availability reduces the yield potential further adversely affecting food security.

Rising atmospheric CO2 concentration, higher temperatures, changes in rainfall patterns and in the frequency of extreme events, which are the features of climate change affect the volume, quantity, quality, food production as well as the natural environment in which agriculture takes place.

There is a growing consensus that over the coming decades, higher temperatures and changing rainfall levels caused by climate change will be unfavourable for crop yield in various regions of the country.

The threat that climate changes pose to agricultural production does not only cover the area of crop husbandry but also includes livestock and in fact the total agricultural sector.

Climate can affect livestock both directly and indirectly. Direct effects of climate variables such as air, temperature, humidity, wind speed and other climate factors influence animal performance such as growth, milk production, wool production and reproduction. Climate can also affect the quantity and quality of feed stuffs such as pasture, forage, and grain and also the severity and distribution of livestock diseases and parasite.

Already, the effects of climate change are manifesting in declining agricultural productivity, increased risks to human health, diminished prospects of employment opportunities, escalated poverty, worsened food insecurity and conflicts from resource use.

2. Climate Change and Economic Growth:

Climate change is already deepening poverty in Nigeria both directly and indirectly. Though the direct impacts include the livelihoods, assets, infrastructure, etc from climate extreme events; the indirect effects are hampers economic growth.

The ongoing climate change has altered growth by reducing the ability of the poor to engage in the non-farm sector, thereby increasing inequality.

Climate change has affected economic growth and development in the following ways:

  1. Low Agricultural Productivity in the northern region: Reductions in crop yield in most areas across the north due to decreased water availability. Consequently, crop yield have fallen sharply especially for rain-fed crops. Fall in agricultural productivity adversely affects growth and development. This causes food insecurity, unemployment, reduced incomes and stagnated economic growth. Furthermore, reduced crop yields have brought about food price rises.
  2. Displacement of people in coastal areas of the country: Climate change has brought about huge displacement of people from coastal and densely populated low-lying areas of the Niger Delta.

3. Climate Change and Development:

Rainfall is by far the most important element of climate change in Nigeria. The northeast region of Nigeria is increasingly becoming arid at a very fast rate occasioned by fast reduction in the amount of surface water, plant and animal resources on land. Consistent reduction in rainfall leads to a reduction in the natural re-generation rate of land resources.

This makes people to exploit more previously undisturbed lands leading to depletion of the forest cover in the northern axis of Nigeria.

The southern area of Nigeria largely known for high rainfall is currently confronted by irregularity in the rainfall and temperature is gradually increasing in the Guinea savannah zone of the country. In addition, the northern zone faces the threat of desert encroachment.

Climate change affects food and water re-sources that are critical for livelihood in Africa where much of the population especially the poor, rely on local supply system that are sensitive to climate variation. Disruptions of existing food and water systems will have devastating implications for development and livelihood. These are expected to add to the challenges climate change already poses for poverty eradication.

The sustainability of the environment to provide all life support systems and the materials for fulfilling all developmental aspirations of man and animal is dependent on the suitability of the climate which is undergoing constant changes.

Conclusion and Recommendation

Considering the adverse impacts of climate change on agriculture, economic growth and development in Nigeria, there is the need to enact policies to control CO2 emission.

Since global warming are due to the burning of fossil fuels, gas flaring and deforestation, there is the need to put an end to illegal practice of gas flaring in oil fields across the Niger Delta.

Furthermore, there is the need to provide electricity supply to the entire country in order to reduce the use of power generating sets.

The aforementioned are some of the ways of curbing climate change and its negative impacts in the country.

 

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