Due to the climate-dependent nature of agriculture in Nigeria, the ongoing global warming is posing serious threat to agricultural productivity and food security in the country and in many other developing nations. Findings reveal that, over time, climate change has affected agriculture and food security in Nigeria through land degradation, drought, desertification, drying up of surface waters, coastal floods, and other adverse weather events. Considering the adverse impacts of climate change on agriculture in the country, we suggest that there is the need to encourage agricultural and industrial practices which will reduce the magnitude of greenhouse gasses emission.
The agricultural sector remains the main source of livelihood for most rural communities in Nigeria and other developing countries. Due to the multi-functional nature of the sector, it affects the nation’s socioeconomic and industrial development.
This is so because agriculture provides a source of employment for more than 65 per cent of the Nigerian population. Furthermore, it is an important sector of the economy and the source of raw materials used in the processing industries as well as a source of foreign exchange earnings for the country.
Rain-fed farming predominates in Nigeria; thus, any change in climate is bound to affect agricultural production adversely. The effects vary could be assessed in terms impacts on availability of soil water, crop growth, soil erosion and decrease in soil fertility, sea level rises, and incident of pest and diseases.
Climate change is an environmental problem affecting humanity worldwide. Climate change results from the increase in the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. These gases trap heat thereby contributing to increase in temperature in the global climate; a phenomenon called global warming.
Global warming causes extreme weather events that impact on crop growth, availability of soil water, soil erosion, droughts, floods, sea level rises with increased incidence of diseases and pest infestations.
All these has adversely affected agriculture and food supply, fresh water resources, natural ecosystems, biodiversity and human health, threatening human development and their social, political and economical survival.
The location as well as the characteristics relief in Nigeria gives rise to a variety of climates. This ranges from Sahel climate in the northern parts of the country to the tropical rain forest climate along the coasts, each being different by its annual rainfall, sunshine, and other climatic elements.
Nigeria has seven major vegetation zones. These are the mangrove swamps, the salt water and fresh water swamps, tropical rain forests, guinea savannah, derived savannah, Sudan savannah, and Sahel savannah.
Furthermore, Nigeria experiences large variations (both in duration and in intensity) in rainfall making rainfall the most important element of climate change in Nigeria and a good source of water supply in the country.
Part of the evidences of climate change impacts in Nigeria is that the southern ecological zone of the country largely known for high rainfall is currently confronted by irregularity in the rainfall pattern; while Guinea savannah is experiencing gradual and steady rise in temperature.
The Northern zone is experiencing desertification at a very fast pace due to drastic reduction in the amount of surface water.
Conversely, Nigeria’s coastal region is experiencing incessant floods, destruction of mangrove ecosystems, contamination of water and transmission of water borne diseases, leading to displacement and communal crisis.
In recent times, this has brought about crop failures, reduced agricultural productivity, greater hunger, overwhelming poverty, malnutrition and diseases.
Climate change has caused reduction of arable lands available for cultivation in Nigeria.
While the desert encroachment and its associated sand dunes is reducing the available agricultural farmlands and grazing rangelands, sea incursion is depriving farmers of their arable land in the coastal plains.
The frequent droughts and reduced rainfall have started shortening the growing season; consequently, causing crops failure and food shortage.
Rainfall is undoubtedly the most important element of climate change in Nigeria. The northeast region of the country is fast becoming an arid environment at a very fast rate due to drastic reduction in the amount of surface water.
The gradual and steady reduction in rainfall has led to a reduction in the natural regeneration rate of land resources. This has made people to exploit more previously undisturbed lands leading to depletion of the vegetative cover and increase on sand dunes deposits in northern Nigeria.
This has exposed the northern region to a serious threat of desert encroachment. The effect of these changes is posing threat to food security in Nigeria.
Normal rainfall would have a positive effect on agricultural productivity. However, heavy rainfall that leads to flooding (as seen in southern region of Nigeria) can have negative effect on agricultural productivity.
This is because heavy rainfall could lead to both soil erosion and soil leaching. Leaching makes nutrient unavailable for crops; thus, decreasing agricultural productivity.
Climate change has had significant impact on agricultural productivity in Nigeria. This has been through its effects on rainfall and temperature across the country.
From the foregoing, there is the need for government and stakeholders to come up with policies that could minimize and mitigate the current trend of climate change impacts in the country.
Furthermore, there is the need to increase agricultural productivity by developing innovation that increase soil nutrient and do not contribute to change in climate.
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