The first quarter of the year in Nigeria has always been noted as usually the hottest period with regards to weather variability and default seasonal pattern. This period is characterised with high solar intensity and consequently high temperature build-up, which in a lot of ways, causes a great deal of discomfort to people.
The hot period is often short termed because the raining season breaks the hot cycle with the usually long wet months, which invariably ushers in the period of plenty (food production).
However, the first quarter of 2016 has recorded the hottest so far in this part of the world. The temperature was unusually higher than favourably normal while the accompanied heat wave broke every precedence record. Just as if the physiological discomfort is not enough, some food items have taken on the side of becoming out of reach for the common man. For instance, the common and once affordable tomato fruit, which has now become so scarce and expensive, is now temporarily classified as food for the rich. An unlikely year as it all seems, it is just reasonable to realise that the problem at hand is an interconnected one, with a pointer in the direction of the changing climate.
Inferences and insights on the prevailing agro-weather situation in the country have shown many links with direct impact of climate change on the weather condition and food production. In a lot of ways, this period seems to have presented a perfect platform to show the vivid picture of what climate change is. Of course, it has related impacts to the hard-to-crack or rather ignorant Nigerians, who overtime have found it difficult to reason with the phenomenon of the changing climate.
While the country is currently facing a steep downturn financially, climate change has further added to the hardship being faced by the teeming population. This is with the essential agro-dependent consumable provisions that are becoming rather out of easy reach.
Agricultural outputs have largely dwindled as a result of weather variability and in turn, impaired food production and availability. Another probable climate-linked impact is the prevalent invasion of the Fulani herdsmen in the South. The aridity status of the northern part of the country, from where these people hail has led to their southward’s migration in search of edible vegetation for their cattle. As a result, a number of farmlands have been destroyed and levelled aground. This has invariably led to a number of mortal clashes with farm owners. The herdsmen in turn, have recorded loss of lives and property.
The variability in weather condition on its own, has a rather constant attribute – heat build-up. This heat build-up arises from the ever-rising temperature through the greenhouse effect. The escalating temperature, in a way, has been linked to some disease outbreak and spread among the human population as well as the incidental rise of pathogenic attack on plants and livestock. Such could be the case with the current problem of the availability of tomatoes in Nigeria. The challenge has been linked to a disease outbreak (tomato leaf miner disease) that has led to the destruction of about 40% of anticipated harvest. The disease has been noted to be spreading at an alarming rate and this has even called for the declaration of a state of emergency in some parts of the North.
The leaf miner disease has been on a migratory trend with its point of origin in South America and now spreading fast through Europe and Africa. In the manner of considering the shift in the trend of the global ecosystem as a result of climate change, some localised latent disease have found possible conditions to assuming the status of full-blown epidemics and an above average spread rate potential. The leaf miner disease is on rampage in Nigeria and to a great extent, the possibility of the link with the impact of climate change, is quite on the high side of certainty.
So, in the manner of the unfolding events in the country as of today, climate change seem to bare itself in its absolute nakedness and the clarity of its impacts is altogether becoming more obvious after all. Now seems the time when government should work out a way of facilitating extensive awareness programs. This will accommodate the necessary awareness to effect practices that would ensure adequate adaptation to the changing climate. Also, it’s just the right time to speed up the passing of necessary bills that would facilitate the activation of the template of adaptation and mitigation contained in the country’s intended nationally determined contribution (INDC) submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
By Dele Oni (Green Impact International. firstname.lastname@example.org)