Policy Recommendations for Scaling Innovations in Climate-Resilient Food Systems

The 2023 Sahel Food Changemakers System Conference was a highly impactful event that successfully brought together key stakeholders to discuss the transformation of Nigeria’s food system. During the conference, the challenges facing the agriculture sector, particularly the detrimental impact of climate change, were identified and thoroughly addressed. Numerous innovative solutions were proposed to promote the adoption of climate-resilient agricultural practices.

Importantly, these recommendations emphasize the importance of sustainable and adaptable farming methods, including agroforestry, conservation agriculture, and precision farming. These practices hold the potential to increase agricultural productivity, conserve natural resources, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The conference also underscored the significance of enacting inclusive and sustainable policies and regulations that encourage adopting climate-resilient practices. This includes incentivizing renewable energy in agriculture, fostering collaboration across various sectors, and integrating climate change considerations into agricultural initiatives.

In the face of a changing climate, scaling innovations in climate-resilient food systems is essential for securing a sustainable and secure future. Policymakers at all levels, from local to international, must take proactive steps to implement these recommendations. By investing in research, promoting sustainable practices, and creating an environment conducive to innovation, we can build resilient food systems capable of withstanding the challenges posed by a shifting climate. It is a pivotal moment to take bold actions that ensure the well-being of both current and future generations.

Impacts of Climate Change on Agriculture in Nigeria

According to the National Adaptation Strategy and Plan of Action on Climate Change for Nigeria (NASPA-CCN), climate change has far-reaching implications for the agricultural sector, with a multitude of effects:

  1. Elevated Temperatures: The increase in temperatures has led to a notable decrease in agricultural productivity and output throughout Nigeria. This warming trend adversely affects crop yields and livestock health, posing a significant challenge to the farming community.
  2. Fluctuating Rainfall: Variations in both the quantity and intensity of rainfall, as well as shifts in traditional rainfall patterns, have resulted in reduced agricultural productivity and output. These changes impact on a wide range of crops and livestock, making it harder for farmers to predict and manage their harvests effectively.
  3. Extreme Weather Events: Severe storms and climatic disturbances cause substantial damage to agricultural land, crops, and livestock. Beyond this, they also disrupt critical infrastructure, hindering farm access and the marketing of agricultural products. These events exacerbate the vulnerabilities of the agricultural sector.
  4. Rising Sea Levels: Coastal regions in Nigeria are grappling with the consequences of rising sea levels, including flooding, soil salinization, and coastal erosion. These environmental changes have a profound impact on the livelihoods of household’s dependent on coastal agriculture and fisheries.

To address these challenges, below are recommendations on a series of policies and programs focused on climate change adaptation in agriculture:

  • Reviewing National Agricultural Policies: The federal government is urged to undertake a comprehensive review of national agricultural policies, considering the anticipated impacts of climate change. This review should be inclusive, involving stakeholders from various sectors, particularly vulnerable groups, and should emphasize gender inclusivity.
  • Climate Change Adaptation in Agricultural Extension Services: Support should be provided for state-led extension programs designed to address climate change adaptation. This effort includes training and the engagement of the National Youth Service, making it a comprehensive and intergenerational initiative.
  • Community-Based Support Program: Collaboration between state governments and civil society organizations is encouraged to establish a nationwide, community-based program. This initiative is aimed at supporting climate change adaptation efforts and aligning with the objectives and resources of local governments.
  • Research Program on Climate Change and Agriculture: Collaboration with research institutions is essential to initiate and sustain a nationwide research effort focused on understanding the impact of climate change on agriculture. This program promotes knowledge exchange and coordination among research institutions.
  • Promotion of Micro-Insurance and Micro-Credit: Stimulate and support the involvement of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and the private sector in providing insurance and access to finance for small-scale farmers who are vulnerable to the effects of climate change. This support will enable these farmers to adapt their agricultural practices effectively.
  • Poverty Reduction through Integration of Adaptation and Mitigation: Incentivize and promote enhanced income generation by encouraging practices such as intercropping with biofuel crops, especially in regions with low carbon density. This approach not only enhances income directly but also encourages participation in carbon markets, thus contributing to poverty reduction.
  • Enhanced Early Warning System: A comprehensive review of existing policies and initiatives related to early warning systems needs to be conducted as there are Early warning systems such as for pest and diseases lacking the country. Building upon this assessment, the government should formulate and implement a program aimed at enhancing the availability of, and farmer access to, both short-term and long-term weather forecasts.
  • Improving Irrigation and Water Supply: Given the expected alterations in rainfall patterns, especially in the northern ecozones, the Federal Government should intensify its efforts to identify ecologically sustainable and environmentally friendly options for expanding and enhancing irrigation facilities for agricultural crops and improving water supply for livestock.
  • Facilitating Technology Transfer: The Federal Government and private sector should play a facilitating and supporting role in initiatives geared towards identifying and transferring technologies that can contribute to climate change adaptation in Nigeria’s agriculture sector. This should encompass the exploration and incorporation of technologies from international sources to bolster agricultural resilience.

Conclusion

Incorporating these policies and programs is critical for adapting agriculture to the challenges of climate change. Nigeria, like many other nations, faces a changing climate that threatens its food security and economic stability. By taking these proactive measures and fostering innovation, the nation can create resilient and sustainable food systems, securing the well-being of its population and future generations. It is a call to action, and the time for innovation and adaptation is now.

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