CLIMATE CHANGE: IMPACT ON AGRICULTURE AND FOOD PRODUCTION.
Pharm. Chinonye Vera Iloanya
Climate change which refers to long-term shifts in temperature and weather patterns may be natural or caused by human activities. The human causes include burning of fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coals used in transportation and almost every industry; deforestation, oil drilling etc. All of the causes combine to create the “greenhouse effect”, where greenhouse gases prevent heat from escaping into space, thereby warming the planet. Greenhouse gases are not ordinarily dangerous; they become so when they exceed other gases in proportion to their normal level in the atmosphere.
According to the 2017 climate vulnerability index, Nigeria is highly vulnerable to climate change and is classified as one of the ten most vulnerable countries in the world. This is because Nigeria is exposed to extreme weather events, such as sand storms, drought, flood, increase in temperature, variable rainfall, etc.
Agriculture is at the center of the Nigerian economy, providing the main source of livelihood for majority of Nigerians. The country leads in various types of agriculture production such as palm oil, cocoa, sorghum etc. Nigeria still practices rain fed agriculture, which renders her vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. Climate change has a negative effect and is one of the biggest challenges facing agriculture, leading to a reduction in food production in Nigeria. This occurs in certain ways:
Weather: The unpredictable weather patterns affect food production as foods are usually planted in different seasons. With the change in climate, farmers find it difficult to plant in large quantities as the weather patterns cannot be predicted. Also the extreme weather conditions affect food produces and cause a significant decrease in agricultural output.
Increase in temperature: Higher temperature reduce the yields of desirable crops, while encouraging the growth of weeds. It also causes an increase of diseases and pests that attack the produce, thereby declining the quantity of food production.
Extreme climatic events such as flooding, extreme heat and drought has led to soil degradation which results in low crop yield.
Also many food produced by plants growing at elevated CO2 levels, have reduced protein and mineral concentrations, reducing their nutritional values.
According to IPPC (2007), agricultural productivity will decline from 21% to 9% by 2080 due to climate change in Sub-Saharan Africa. This indicates that rising temperatures are likely to reduce food production by up to 50%.
Farmers can adapt to climate change by using drought resistant varieties of crops, crop diversification, changes in cropping pattern, integrating livestock with crop production system, organic practices, reducing tillage, improving soil quality and implementing more efficient irrigation practices.