GEF-UNDP scheme tackles threat to food security from climate change
WITH the declining revenue in crude oil export, a new initiative by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) may rekindle hope for Nigeria’s floundering agricultural sector.
The initiative known as “GEF-UNDP Fostering Sustainability and Resilience for Food Security in Nigeria,” will contribute to the enhancement of long-term environmental sustainability and resilience of food production systems of the country, for the achievement of improved national food security.
The scheme will strengthen the enabling institutional and policy environment, scale up proven sustainable land and water management (SLWM) gender-responsive best practices for improved productivity, particularly among small-scale family agricultural producers in the face of climate change and its variability impacts.
At a project initiation workshop for the development of the GEF / UNDP Fostering Sustainability and Resilience for Food Security in Nigeria project document recently organised by UNDP in Abuja, participants attempted to perfect and finalise the project elements, preparatory to a full commencement of the programme. Among the key objective of the project is establishing a climate-resilient and result-oriented food security monitoring system.
While accounting for about 24per cent of the nation’s GDP and employing roughly 70 per cent of the labour force, agriculture is dominated by about 15 million smallholders (mostly women), who account for over 90per cent of the national food.
In a presentation titled “Fostering sustainability and food security in Nigeria,” Prof Emmanuel Oladipo of the University of Lagos, said the project is consistent with policies and strategies such as the Vision 20:2020; Economic Transformation Blueprint; Agricultural Transformation Agenda; National Policies on Agriculture, Climate Change and Environment; National Adaptation Strategy and Plan of Action on Climate Change in Nigeria (NASPA-CCN); and National Agricultural Resilience Framework (NARF).
He recalled that the Nigeria Vision 20:2020, recognizes a changing climate as a threat to sustainable growth and sees it as a potential driver of “damaging and irrecoverable effects on infrastructure, food production and water supplies, in addition to precipitating natural resource conflicts.”
“This recognition is an important first step towards the imperative for the pursuit of a development path that will develop resilient food systems for the sustainable development of the country, “ he said.
Oladipo listed the main divers of food security to include: rapidly growing population, changing and uncertain climate, shrinking farming workforce, poor infrastructure, flat crops yields over the past decades, and conflicts in the northern agro-ecological zones (AEZs) where most of the grains are produced.
“These drivers put food security in grave danger, unless the decline in food production is offset by vast increase in country food production and food imports – despite infrastructure, production and market support services constraints,” submitted Prof Oladipo.
Oladipo also urged the government to channel money meant for oil subsidy to general agriculture, citing examples of America and France that give financial assistance to farmers to produce food for consumption and export.
Besides, he advocated the inclusion of young graduates in agriculture, give them farm inputs, stressing that land tenure system should be re-packaged to favour agricultural business.
He added, “Emphasis should be on small and medium scale, and government must subsidize local production of food. I do not support large-scale farming. This is not a solution for food security in Nigeria.”