By Boluwaji Obahopo – Lokoja
By year 2039, Nigeria may have lost all its vegetation and experience serious environmental hazard unless urgent steps are taken to reverse the trend.
Senior Climate Specialist and County Director of Solidaridad West Africa, a solution-oriented Civil Society Organisations, Dr. Sam Ogallah stated this, weekend, in Lokoja during the inauguration of Multi-Stakeholder Platform (MSP) for Sustainable Climate Smart Oil Palm production among communities in Kogi.
Dr Ogalla said unless Nigeria adopts the plantation of sustainable climate smart crops, the country faces a serious climate vulnerability in less than 20 years.
He said the inauguration of the Multi-Stakeholder Platform for sustainable climate Smart Oil palm production was part of the National Initiative on Sustainable Climate Smart Oil Palm Smallholder (NISCOPS) project.
Ogalla said that the setting up of the MSP was informed by the result of the studies the organisation conducted in 2019 in the oil-palm sector in Oil-palm Producing States in Nigeria including Kogi, Enugu, Akwa-ibom and Cross Rivers states.
“We conducted climate vulnerability Analysis studies that gave us a red alert on what we are likely to face between now and the next 30 years if things are not done differently.
“Aerial photos and images taken in the course of the study had shown sustained degradation of the ecosystem. We compared the land use, vegetation and land cover as at 1949 and and projected it to 2039.
“We now see that by 2039, most of what we have now will become rare as there will be no vegetation again; due to lack of proper planning of settlement areas among other degrading human activities”.
He said that Solidaridad also conducted analysis on Gender Inclusion and Gender Participation in the oil palm value chain and discovered a lot of biases against women and youths from the report.
“Access to land for women and youths is also an issue. Favourable land tenure system is also an issue. Who has the right to land, who owns the land. We have seen this play out in various communities.
“So the essence of this MSP is to be able to meet with the people who are the custodians of the land and see how we can help with re-orientating and sensitising them, build their capacities so that they can see and do things differently.”
Ogalla said that the studies also revealed that farmers had limited knowledge of best management practices and were overwhelmed with issues of non-application of improved planting materials and inefficient palm-oil processing facilities.
Realising the enormity of the situation, he said the organisation decided to take a Multi-Stakeholder approach involving people from different backgrounds with direct or indirect interest in oil-palm, to look at the issues, brainstorm and address them holistically.
“The idea is that at the end of the day, we should be able to produce oil-palm sustainably and talking about sustainability, we have three pillars – Economy (income), Social and Environment.
“We talk about producing oil palm to have income that would translate into improvement in livelihood for smallholder households in our local communities and when there is sustainable income, there will be less social problems”, he said.
“Environmentally, we have to produce Oil-palm or palm oil in a very sustainable atmosphere so that we can sustain our natural resources for our future generations”, Ogallah explained.
The stakeholders were drawn from Oil-palm farming communities, traditional rulers, Agriculture related Ministries, Departments and Agencies as well as the Media and Civil Society Organisations.