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CLIMATE CHANGE EFFECTS ON AGRICULTURE IN NIGERIA
Climate is the pattern of variation in temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, wind, precipitation, atmospheric particle count and other meteorological variables in a given region over long periods. It defines the rainfall patterns, prevailing temperature which have a significant effect on Agricultural productivity; most especially under rainfed Agricultural production systems practiced in Nigeria.
Causes of climate change
Climate change is the variation in global or regional climates over time. It reflects changes in the variability or average state of the atmosphere over time scales ranging from decades to millions of years.
Climate change refers to an increase in average global temperatures. Natural events and human activities are believed to be contributing to an increase in average global temperatures. This is caused primarily by increases in greenhouse gases such as:
1. Carbon dioxide (CO2)
2. Methane (CH4)
3. Water vapour (H2O)
4. Ozone (O3)
5. Nitrous oxide (N2O)
6. Chlorofluorocarbon (CFCs).
The increasing concentration of chlorine and bromine atoms, which originates from man induced emissions of chlorofluorocarbons (used in air conditioners, refrigerators, aerosols, foams, and sterilants) and haloes (used in fire extinguishing equipment), significantly contributes to global warming by wearing out the ozone layer meant to shield the planet from excessive heat.
The current signs of global climate change have resulted from an average increase in the world temperature, melting of glaciers and the polar ice caps, rising in sea level. Increased temperatures also cause significant changes in weather patterns with extremes of rainfall and strong winds. These changes can result in increased frequencies of droughts, floods and storms in different parts of the world.
Impacts of Climate change on Agriculture.
Climate change is the most severe problem that has been faced in this present day and is more severe than the threat of terrorism, affecting not only the sustainable development of socio-economic and agricultural activities of any nation but also the totality of human existence. The Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) already predicted that Africa is the most vulnerable to climate change impacts. However, it is saddening to note that Africa contribute less than 4% of the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.
Rain-fed farming dominates agricultural production in sub-Saharan Africa, covering around 97% of the total cropland and exposes agricultural production to high seasonal rainfall variability. Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change says that in some African countries, yield from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced up to 50% by the year 2020.
Many countries in tropical and sub-tropical regions, of which Nigeria is included, are expected to be more vulnerable to warming because of additional temperature increases that will affect water balance and harm the agricultural sector; with Agricultural production remaining the main source of livelihood for most rural communities in particular, providing a source of employment for more than 60% of the population and also contributing about 30 % of gross domestic product.
This vulnerability has been demonstrated by the devastating effects of recent flooding in ravaging different part of the country and the various prolonged droughts that are currently witnessed in some parts of Northern region.
Climate Change phenomenon affects agriculture in a number of ways such as:
· Crop failure resulting from extreme weather events such as thunderstorms, heavy winds, and floods; devastate farmlands, uncertainties in the onset of the farming season due to changes in rainfall characteristics (rainfed agriculture).
Crops submerged under flooding
· Desertification in the Sahel has been blamed on overgrazing practices of the local population. But it has been discovered that the real problem is climate change.
· Pests and diseases migrate in response to Climate Changes and variations (e.g. the tsetse fly has extended its range northward. It also affects severity of both pest and disease which will potentially pose a threat to livestock in the drier northern areas.
· Climatic elements variables such as temperature, humidity, wind speed and other climate factors influence animal performance such as growth, milk production, wool production and reproduction.
· Climate can also affect the quantity and quality of feed stuffs such as pasture, forage, and grain available for livestock feeding.
· Declining soil fertility, due to increase in flooding and erosion events and inadequate drainage system.
Adaptive measures to Climate Change
To avoid the serious economic and social consequences of climate change in time to come, there is need for government and all stake holders concerned to address the issues holistically. Some of the adaptive measures will include:
· The need to radically depart from reliance on rain-fed food production through heavy utilization of irrigation. There is therefore the need for adequate provision of irrigation and drainage infrastructures which could be regarded as crucial for climate change adaptation.
· With the increasing rate of erratic rainfall patterns, drought and desertification, drought resistant and short duration high yielding crops should be developed through research efforts and made available to farmers.
· Investment on improved agricultural technology by government and other stakeholders are very necessary for agriculture to be able to cope with climate change.
· According to the UNDP report (2010), the level of awareness about climate change is rather low in Nigeria, and it is likely to continue if no intervention measures are taken. The survey noted that the awareness of climate change was highest at the federal level. This dropped sharply at the state and local government levels, where real action is needed.
· Increasing farmer’s access to technology and market information; through extension agents or the emerging alternative sources of agricultural information like the internet which are yet to expand to the rural areas, and may in fact not be able to, because of language and cost barriers. It is expected that farmers' organizations and the private sector will take the lead towards increased extension, training activities, internet connectivity, technical and market information provision. However, the present level of contribution by farmers’ organizations and private sector in these areas including research is still very low compared to what is obtainable in developed countries such as Japan and Mexico. In Nigeria, agricultural research is carried out predominantly in public sector institutions.
 Adejuwon SA 2004. Impact of climate variability and climate change on crop yield in Nigeria. Contributed Paper to Stakeholders Workshop on Assessment of Impact and Adaptation to Climate Change (AIACC): 2-8.
 Alvaro, C., Tingju, Z., Katrin, R.., Richard, S.J., & Claudia, R. (2009). Economy-wide impact of climate change on
Agriculture in Sub-Saharan Afric. International food policy research Institute (IFPRI) discussion paper, No: 00873 pp1
 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). (2007). Fourth Assessment Report. Retrieved from: www.ipcc.ch, on July 2, 2009.
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