Climate Change in South-West Nigeria
Research carried out on south-west Nigerian farmers as a postgraduate research student on climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts in agriculture revealed a lot. Using two interesting methods of data collection [i.e. semi-structured and literature review], i was able to gain informal access to these farmers, and lots of them opened up on their challenges and how they have exhausted their traditonal methods of coping with the changes they have observed in the climate.
Many farmers went back in history as far back as their childhood days, and they were able to give me a clear picture of how they have observed the decline in rainfall, increase in temperature, increase in pest infestation over the years, making it easy for me to even draw up a time-line for each farmers. To my surprise, there were correlations in the time-lines drawn up for these different farmers who practically spend all their years in rural farming [10 farmers in total or say n=10]. The farmers went back in time, giving me specifics on their experience with climate change over the years with illustrations based on their experience as villagers. The youngest of these farmers was 37 years old, while the oldest is about 80 years old.
These farmers have been productive all their lives, they have always produced for our farm-markets and in recent years they are all struggling with decline in agricultural productivity and depreciation in quality of living. All these from personal and standardized research pointed to some key things that ranges from bad socio-economic policies which is man-made to climate change that can be categorized as a natural phenomena.
Please note, article will focus on the aspect of Climate Change
The research revealed that climate change is increasingly affecting the agricultural operations in the areas studied, and farmers are unfortunately running out of their traditional options of adapting to this natural phenomena.
All the farmers showed and described to me all the methods they have engaged over the years, and how these traditional methods themselves are becoming old fashioned and facing resistant to the uncontrollable weather change not suitable for their various crops. Its was in the process that i and my team/friends got to realize that rural farming in Nigeria has lots of ideas on its own to develop and modernize on, and probably export, and it was in the process that i also got to realize how rich our traditional farming is.
Farmers showed me various local irrigation methods and how their farming societies has been able to manage conflicts surrounding the built ones, and i myself saw the limitations of these methods while i also saw the beauty in it.
The southwest farmers have sadly recorded sharp decline in various crop production, while they also expressed the increasing confusion in their ability to monitor the weather using their traditional farming schedule that appears to be racing against time.
The relatively short period i spent in the study areas, made me see the looming problem of food crises and the increasing failures of national government to avert the problem.
Finally, inquiring further on the role of government on adapting to climate change in these areas made me realize the disconnect between the Nigerian people and the Nigerian government. All the farmers acknowledged absence of their local government in their effort, and they also confirmed the politicization of their few requests by some corrupt elements of the local governments. It was clear understanding the multiplier effects of these looming problems due to climate change has never been a priority of all the local governments, and i was shocked to confirm the lack of knowledge on the extent of the problems climate change has caused in the agricultural development of these areas. Research and documentations on climate change never existed, and the link between climate change and agriculture in these areas are not defined.
My intention to do some semi-structured interviews of the local government workers/leaders never came through with all efforts, and my effort to gather enough facts through literature reviews was also weakened by the lack of properly conducted research documents.
In conclusion, there are needs to re-institutionalize any approach to tackling climate change in Nigeria. There are needs for a dedicated institution with the sole responsibility of monitoring and tackling climate change, efficient enough to coordinate micro, rural based operations professionally and proactively.
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