Last year, I attended an event on Climate Change. Sadly, even though I promised to do so immediately after the event, I’m only just getting to write about it. So, mea culpa…but I did write about the entire weekend, and called it ‘Green Deal Weekend’.

So why am I writing now? Well, I’m in London and we’re currently drifting between 0 and 4 degrees. Interestingly, over the last couple of days in Abuja, Nigeria, everyone I know has complained about the scorching heat. Matter of fact one person made a joke and said,

“why can’t the devil just apologise to God so we can all go back to living naked in the Garden of Eden? This heat is terrible!”

Also, recently on CNN, I watched a clip about the extremes of weather in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square over a mere 24-hour period. On 23rd January zero visibility, smog and air pollution. On the 24th January, clear and bright as a beautiful summer day. The picture below, courtesy Feng Li/Getty Images has an instructive depiction.

BEIJING, CHINA - JANUARY 24: (EDITORS NOTE - IMAGE SHOT ON THE 360 PANORAMA IPHONE APPLICATION) This combination of photos shows (bottom) the Tiananmen Square during severe pollution on January 23, 2013, and the same view (top) taken during clear weather on January 24, 2013 in Beijing, China. The air quality in Beijing on Wednesday hit serious levels again, as smog blanketed the city.

BEIJING, CHINA – JANUARY 24: (EDITORS NOTE – IMAGE SHOT ON THE 360 PANORAMA IPHONE APPLICATION) This combination of photos shows (bottom) the Tiananmen Square during severe pollution on January 23, 2013, and the same view (top) taken during clear weather on January 24, 2013 in Beijing, China. The air quality in Beijing on Wednesday hit serious levels again, as smog blanketed the city.

We are witness to flooding of biblical proportions in Nigeria this past year. Hundreds of thousands literally washed out of their farms and homes caused by a supposedly life-enabling natural resource – water. Say hello to climate change, the child of global warming, and to the continuous stripping of the ozone layer. The World Wide Fund for Nature is leading the response with several interventions, and they have most of the terms around climate change defined in very simple, every day terms on their website.

I’ll be honest and say that apart from switching off lights when I’m not using them, recycling plastics and bottles and spending less time in the shower, any talk about climate change before now was just another ‘first world’ problem. Third world countries (including mine) had bigger issues to deal with – poverty, security, maternal and child health, youth empowerment, etc.

Late last year though I attended this Green Deal Nigeria event; one stop in the set of consultative fora organised by Heinrich Boll to foster debates on how to transition Nigeria to a “green economy that is low-carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive“. Beyond the fact that three young Nigerians, @abangmercy, @xeenarh, and @omojuwa, brilliant friends of mine would be making presentations, it would be an opportunity to understand and exchange views on the many issues around the vexed (and vexing) questions around the increasingly urgent demand to treat live responsibly within our God-given environment.

The three major thrusts of the discussion that day were Agriculture, Making the Case for Renewable energy, and Oil.

I focused my note taking on agriculture because it is the least on the ladder of priorities for our government today, oil being at the top.

Climate Change greatly affects agricultural practices – it impacts on rainfall with consequences on soil quality, temperature etc. I have reproduced notes I took on the day below:

  • Agriculture provides a viable, more sustainable foundation for economic growth and youth empowerment. Youth because they are form the largest demographic (60% of the population) and the highest rural – urban migrants too.
  • Climate change is a problem that is escalating by the day in Nigeria. From coastal erosion and land loss in Calabar and Lagos, to desertification in Yobe/Sokoto, to full-scale erosion in Anambra state, at this rate the ecological future isn’t bright.
  • It’s been predicted that Nigeria’s 160 million strong population could rise above 220million by 2050; Nigeria is unable to feed itself, and is currently the world’s largest importer of rice and fish.
  • 60% of the Nigerian population earn their living from farming; the need for training and infrastructural development to complement this sector of the economy should take precedence over oil.
  • Lack of development leaves a lot of room for conflict. The farmer in an eroded area with nothing to do and no source of income is the easiest to recruit and brainwash for extremism.

How do you encourage young people to farm?

  1. Create access to good land that they don’t have to struggle with politicians/government officials for. Ratify policies separating allocations of land strictly for agriculture.
  2. Institute training and commercialisation programmes for farmers.
  3. Provide access to loans with a cap on at most 10% interest, and with collaterals that correspond with their living conditions. So you don’t someone who lives in the village for collateral that includes landed property in Abuja.

What would increase your interest in agriculture? Share!

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Comments
  1. kalat says:

    What would increase my interest? Well you’ve mentioned two of the things that would, ie. Easier access to land and softer financing. A welcome third would be a scheme whereby a certain market for produce is created, for instance state or local governments mopping up crops that are grown in their areas from the local farmers at a fixed price and taking responsibility for transporting to areas where they are in demand as well as stockpiliing to enhance our food security. There’s a lot I’d like to see but I think that’s a good place to start.

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  2. joy says:

    “We are witness to flooding of biblical proportions in Nigeria this past year. Hundreds of thousands literally washed out of their farms and homes caused by a supposedly life-enabling natural resource – water. Say hello to climate change.”

    Did that rain affect the lakes around there that were drying up? (N.of country) or was it off target?

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  3. […] Mercy and Omojuwa, was so proud of them! Robust discussion too, all of that’s captured in the ‘Green Deal: The Real Deal’ […]

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