By Oluwatosin Ojebisi
Nigeria’s Agricultural sector remains one of the strongest pillars of the nation’s economy that caters majorly to the livelihood of many in the country. According to Statista, Nigeria’s agricultural sector contributes significantly to a part of the country’s GDP. Between July and September 2021, agriculture contributed almost 30 percent of the total GDP, an increase of about six percentage points compared to the previous quarter.
However, the exponential increase in Nigeria’s population is driving up the demand for food and agricultural produce. A report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) revealed that about 19.4 million people will face food insecurity across Nigeria between June and August 2022.
The food challenge is projected to worsen; hence Nigeria needs to reform its livestock and crop production system to feed its growing population. The challenge of food insecurity is also intensified by the extreme climate condition and change happening globally. The deteriorating weather condition has posed a significant challenge in the agricultural sector. For instance, it has led to a market fluctuation in the price of food and livestock while also reducing crop nutrients.
According to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the impact of climate change alone could reduce crop yields by half over the next 35 years. In Nigeria, the agriculture sector continues to be impacted by weather hazards, restricting access to food and increasing food insecurity. In 2018, flooding across major farming belts in 10 states ruined crops of 100,000 farmers and damaged over 30% of farmland in the affected areas. This severe weather condition will be more frequent because of climate change, hence the need to build resilience.
To surmount the climate challenge will mean taking climate-smart actions. The World Bank Group (WBG) is currently scaling up climate-smart agriculture. In its first Climate Change Action Plan (2016-2020), as well as its update covering 2021-2025, the World Bank committed to working with countries to deliver climate-smart agriculture that achieves the triple win of increased productivity, enhanced resilience, and reduced emissions.
Also championing agricultural climate-smart actions is Nestlé, a food and beverage company committed to investing about N535 billion in regenerative agriculture food systems. This was made known in a recent statement, where Nestlé’s chief executive officer, Mark Schneider said, “Today, Nestlé published the most important regenerative farming practices that the company wants to promote. They include, among others, enhancement of biodiversity, soil conservation, regeneration of water cycles, and integration of livestock.
“Agriculture accounts for nearly two-thirds of Nestlé’s total greenhouse gas emissions, with dairy and livestock making up about half of that. Nestlé is assessing cutting-edge science and technology to reduce emissions at the farm level.”
Furthermore, Nestlé Nigeria, through its Golden Morn brand, recently committed to improving youth participation in agriculture through the training of local farmers and support to young entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector. Through its Golden Morn Agripreneurship Webinar series inaugurated in October 2021, the company disclosed that it wants to build the capacity of next-generation farmers to cut the high youth unemployment rate in Nigeria.
In addition to these, Nestlé Nigeria in collaboration with Lagos Business School (LBS) Sustainability Centre recently commenced its 2022 media training tagged; “Advancing Nutrition, Health and Environmental Awareness through the Media”. The programme is inclusive of journalists from print, broadcast and online media organisations. The training aims to sharpen journalists’ skills on how to report effectively and accurately in educating the public on the importance of eating nutritious food, living a healthy life, the impact of climate change, and protecting the environment.
Speaking at the training during a fireside chat, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Manager, Nestlé Nigeria, Victoria Uwadoka said, “Every organisation must be responsible in how they source for raw materials, companies must source responsibly and sustainably. Production must be sustainable and the consumption of energy should also be reduced. We are happy that the Lagos state government is also not relenting in its commitment to improving the environment, and we are delighted for the media to amplify stories of what we are doing and what the government is doing in strengthening climate actions while calling for more accountability from all stakeholders.”
Ultimately, the collaboration of government, media, and other relevant stakeholders will be necessary to contribute significantly to the agricultural sector and mitigate the impact of climate change; while moving toward a food-secure Nigeria.