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Issues unaddressed in climate smart agriculture discourse, by Nwajiuba

Challenges related to rising temperature and farm labour, changing rainfall in a dominantly rainfed system as well as increased frequency of occurrence of extreme weather events have either been partly addressed or totally neglected in the Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) discourse.

Prof Chinedum Nwajiuba. Photo credit: newtelegraphonline.com  Issues unaddressed in climate smart agriculture discourse, by Nwajiuba Nwajiuba

Prof Chinedum Nwajiuba. Photo credit: newtelegraphonline.com

This was the submission of Prof Chinedum Nwajiuba of the Imo State University, Owerri in a presentation at the sidelines of the ongoing 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) holding in Paris, France.

Prof Nwajiuba, who is also of the Nigeria Environmental Study/Action Team (NEST) in Ibadan, Oyo State, listed the CSA Framework to include productivity, resilience and mitigation. According to him, climate change has today compounded old and new problems like low productivity, rapidly increasing population, ageing farming population, rapid urbanisation, reliance on human labour, and rainfed systems.

The CSA is defined as agricultural practices that sustainably increase productivity and system resilience while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. CSA, according to scientists, helps ensure that climate change adaptation and mitigation are directly incorporated into agricultural development planning and investment strategies. Indeed, CSA is being widely promoted as the future of African agriculture and as a viable answer to climate change.

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However, under challenge of rising temperature and farm labour, the don believes that farm mechanisation should be adopted, with it (mechanisation) powered in a manner to minimise emissions.

“This will raise productivity, and may be considered simultaneously an adaptation and mitigation. Measure,” he stated, pointing out that successful experience with this may be out-scaled, supported by building the capacity of public and private extension services.

To address challenge of changing rainfall in a dominantly rainfed system, Prof Nwajiuba stressed that, in addition to breeding for drought resistance and shortening of growing seasons of crops and sturdiness of livestock, there is need to develop irrigation schemes suited to various locations and conditions.

“This will raise productivity, and may be considered an adaptation measure. This should be of interest to research, policy, and investment. This should be supported by building the capacity of public and private Extension services,” he declared.

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On increased frequency of occurrence of extreme weather events, he emphasised that innovative early warning systems and information provisions are required.

He stressed that farmers’ insurance schemes should further be out-scaled based on experiences and lessons from places where that is already in practice. He added that this would raise productivity, and may be considered an adaptation measure.

Prof Nwajiuba identified slash and burn land management as major sources of farmers’ emissions, adding that they are practices farmers are reluctant to stop because recommended alternatives make additional labour demand.

Additionally, he listed successful CSA practices to include:

  • Nitrogen fertilisers (eg urea), Integrated nutrient mgmt. (eg microdosing, efficient fertiliser use)
  • Reduced residue burning, Reduced tillage/no till
  • Green manures (reduced fallows), Fertiliser trees (e.g., Faidherbia)
  • Conservation agriculture (mulch, no till), Conservation Agriculture with fertiliser trees
  • Grain, livestock, and fertiliser tree integration
  • Genetics, Improved crop varieties (breeding and engineering)
  • Water use, Water pumps for irrigation (petrol), Irrigation techniques (amount, timing, technology)
  • Micro-catchment (eg zai, microbasin, Terracing)
  • Rainwater catchment, storage, Delivery eg farm pond)
  • Livestock, Rotational Grazing, Improved breeding, Stocking density management (e.g., herd size/land area), Improved feed management (higher feed quality), Manure management (barn design)
  • Information technology, Planting date recommendation, Sentinel warning system (droughts, pests)
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