How we are assisting farmers to mitigate effects of climate change- AGRA-Nigeria

How we are assisting Nigerian farmers to mitigate climate change
The Nigerian Country Director of  Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) Dr. Kehinde Makinde, speaks on the outcome of the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference also known as Conference of Parties (COP26) and the effects of climate change on agriculture. He also speaks on the efforts being made by AGRA to support Nigerian farmers in mitigating the effects of climate change. People’s Trust brings excerpts. 
With the challenges of climate change facing the country, what environmental changes could Nigeria adopt?
Nigeria can do a lot to respond to the challenges of climate change and indeed it can lead the process. Nigeria has pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2030, that’s a step in the right direction. We can help communities to change habits that aggravate global warming and climate change. This can be achieved in a variety of ways: we can start planting more trees to absorb the Carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere – (afforestation and reforestation) forests), developing renewable energy, effective land use planning to avoid land degradation, limiting the expansion of coal-fired power plants.   Other solutions can involve 
much greater implementation of mitigation and adaptation measures. In addition, we need to build necessary capacity at the individual, group and community level to engage in climate change responses. 
How can we sustain agribusiness following the obvious and adverse effects of climate change on farm produce.
The impacts of climate change present a significant challenge to the private sector, especially to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which constitute the drivers of economic growth in Nigeria. If their viability is threatened by climate variability and extreme weather events, the entire economy will suffer. We need to stress the need for innovation and increased participation of agribusiness SMEs in the climate action to enhance their sustainability. to achieve low carbon. Our agribusinesses need to be more environmentally friendly in their businesses. Taking a more environmentally friendly approach to business has numerous benefits, including the opportunity to gain competitive advantage, manage business risk more effectively, improve efficiency and reduce costs. 
3. What support has AGRA rendered or intends to render for farmers who face the harsh conditions of climate change?
As a friend to the farmers, AGRA-Nigeria has rolled out key initiatives to help small holder farmers cope with the adverse effect of climate change. In drought prone areas, AGRA-Nigeria is supporting farmers with high yielding and  “early maturing seeds” that are suitable for drought prone areas.  We also enhance farmer access to other farm inputs such as fertilizers, and crop protection products to help them fight pests and diseases like Fall Army Worms (FAW).  We also offer extension and advisory services through Community Based Advisors working alongside Government  Extension Agents and this is translating to increased productivity and incomes.  With increased productivity and incomes, farmers are better able to cope with the adverse effects of climate change.
In terms of diversification of crop systems, AGRA-Nigeria is helping farmers to diversify their various crop systems from deep rooted crops to shallow rooted crops. These diversification effects will help in improving the incomes that have been generated from farming. 
The possible consequences of climate change therefore include job losses and declining economic growth. Its impacts on businesses can be direct, such as damage to buildings and locations, or the disruption of production processes if, for instance, machines overheat or staff fall sick more often.
But the impacts can also be indirect, with the increasing scarcity – and rising prices – of resources such as water and energy, the disruption of supply chains and changes in demand for produced goods. At the same time, the need to adapt to climate change may create a new demand for products and services, and prompt new business opportunities. Examples in the case of the textile industry might include technologies for energy efficiency and building insulation, or the provision of consulting services.
How do you think world leaders should do in reacting to factors that promote climate change?
World leaders can help increase awareness of the people to the harmful practices that promote climate change. We can start from simple things that help reduce emissions. For instance, efficient and sustainable public transportation can help the public to use their cars less, they can avoid putting appliances on standby unnecessarily. They can encourage people to consume less and more efficiently and also reuse or recycle relevant materials.
World leaders can also set targets for cutting emissions as seen in the resolutions of the just concluded COP 26 and fulfill the pledges on climate financing as agreed. This is the kind action  which has been lacking. 
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday pledged that Nigeria will cut its emissions to net zero by 2060, what role will AGRA play in the race to zero in Nigeria? 
Net zero’ refers to achieving an overall balance between emissions produced and emissions taken out of the atmosphere. To make “net zero” possible, we as a country need to take care of our natural resource base and use them more efficiently. Having access to productivity-enhancing technologies help farmers to harness their land resources efficiently and produce more with less. 
On green projects in the county, the President declared that Federal Government agencies have been directed to ensure the inclusion of projects with Climate Change credentials in the budget, what plans does AGRA have towards this (in terms of assistance)? 
Building farmers’ resilience and coping strategies is receiving greater attention in our programming. We just got some support from the German Government and the USAID to enhance resilience and assist farmers to better cope with shocks and stresses induced by climate change. AGRA will be supporting additional 600,000 farmers in Kaduna and Niger States to diversify their cropping systems and income sources. As part of this initiative, we will be supporting these farmers with resilient technologies and  environmental safety management systems, among others. 
 According to Bill Gates, reaching net-zero will be one of the hardest things humanity has ever done, narrowing it down to Nigeria, what will AGRA do differently to assist? 
AGRA is an alliance led by Africans with roots in farming communities across the continent. We understand that African farmers need uniquely African solutions designed to meet their specific environmental and agricultural needs so they can sustainably boost production and gain access to rapidly growing agriculture markets.
Education is key to addressing climate change. One of the  things AGRA will do is raise awareness of climate change. We will roll out early warning systems and strengthen partnership with the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) and National Emergency Management Agency  focusing on informing various stakeholders on the dangers of climate change and how to curb the adverse effects.  
Development of a sustainable food and nutrition system is among the many ways AGRA-Nigeria will contribute  towards  adjusting to the present challenges of climate change. Institutional reforms are also important. Advocating for the various laws  and policies towards adjusting to the adverse effects of climate change. These laws will help in building an enabling business environment for SME’s small holder farmers and various stakeholders in the food Value chain.
To support climate change ambition, there is an urgent need to scale finance, technology and markets, as there are various opportunities for investment in low-carbon projects and infrastructure, what should we expect from AGRA Nigeria on this? 
 AGRA-Nigeria is building a more resilient partnership with various stakeholders, including private sector actors at the input and output markets. These partnerships can help farmers withstand the losses experienced due to climate change. AGRA-Nigeria also acts as an interface between farmers and financial institutions to enhance farmers’ access to production loans to uptake technologies and infrastructure such as small-scale irrigation. Such equipment can enable them to improve the quality of their natural resource base. 
Recently, we have been sensitized frequently that pockets of Nigeria are facing prospects of severe hunger and malnutrition because of the pandemic and insecurity. AGRA’s work on early warning systems and food trade can help in setting up opportunities for people in food deficit areas to benefit from areas of surplus in order to achieve a sizable balance in food availability across the country.
Further, AGRA and partners recently supported the GoN on the enactment of Seed Act 2019), Fertilizer Quality Control Act (2019) and more recently the Plant Variety Protection Act (2021). We will continue to support the government to create enabling policy environments, and mobilize new climate investments to transform Nigeria’s agriculture sector. 
The challenges of climate change have the worst hit on small holder farmers and food production, what’s the way forward?
Yes, small holder farmers are mostly affected because they have been experiencing a significant change in terms of rising temperature, drought, variable rainfall and flooding. These climate changes have largely affected the production of food across the country. 
As previously noted, the introduction of modern post-harvest practices can go a long way in withstanding the adverse effects of climate change.   Governments at all levels have a major role to play in supporting agribusinesses that provide inputs and services to farmers. This will help farmers in drought prone areas to have a sustainable flow of income from farming.
AGRA and other development partners can complement the Government with grants, extension advisory services, but Governments must lead the inclusive agricultural transformation to improve food security and reduce poverty. 

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