It is no longer news that the effect of global warming and the many risks it poses to human lives and other ecosystem components is alarming. The many incidents of flooding, prolonged drought, abrupt change in weather conditions and other natural disasters did not just occur but were the resultants effects of harmful practices and ways of life.
Unfortunately, these climate change-induced disasters are on the increase with each passing day. It is astounding that a key sector such as agriculture is a major contributor to climate change. Agriculture in its entirety is a sector that can either heighten or mitigate climate change, food production through planting of crops and rearing of animals must therefore be harnessed with environmental sustainability plans.
Even though, farmers are strategic to feeding the nation and ensuring food security for the world at large, we must understand that smallholder farmers in myriads of communities which account for over 70% of total food production are engaging in harmful practices that disrupt the ecosystem thereby contributing greatly to global warming.
Such practices include bush burning; excessive use of chemicals such as fertilizers; use of non-biodegradable pesticides and herbicides; Deforestation through felling of trees; continuous monocropping without soil replenishment scheme; intensive farming with inappropriate ploughing methods.
These practices among many others are harmful to the ecosystem and the landscape at large giving rise to land degradation, loss of biodiversity, flooding, and exposure to other climate change negative impacts.
The question is, what are the alternatives to these? This conundrum has drawn the attention of Ripple Heights Development Initiative, a charity organization registered in the United Kingdom and Nigeria, for the purpose of combating extreme poverty in Africa through her tripartite program which are, the Water is Life, Go-Agro and Slum to league initiatives; to sensitize smallholder farmers on eco-friendly farming practices across rural communities. This was done in partnership with Global Landscapes Forum (GLF), a global body whose vision is hinged on sustainable landscape approach and management, using local action to provide universal solutions.
This apparent trade-off between productivity and environment can be resolved through adoption of new farming practices that emphasize restoring and maintaining biodiversity on agricultural land to the benefit of soils and crops. Through the partnership for a common goal, GLF Ibadan chapter have been sensitizing and training farmers to build their resilience while advocating for adoption of improved innovations in eco-friendly farming, climate-smart agriculture and empowering farmers to make rights choices in agricultural techniques to mitigate soil degradation, erosion, low productivity, pest and diseases and low income while becoming environmentally conscious with implementation of sustainable eco-friendly farming practices for a secured future.
Alternative to these practices was highlighted in one of our training sessions at Ilegbon community, Lagelu LGA, Oyo State Nigeria. Instead of bush burning, an eco-friendly approach is agroforestry involving planting of trees such as the Inga tree species, a nitrogen-fixing tree that can be planted as seedlings along the alleys of the farmland for biological weed control.
The excessive use of chemicals such as fertilizers can also be greatly reduced or eliminated by this tree as the trimmings and leaves are used as mulch for the crops planted between its rows.
Furthermore, the production of bio-fertilizer is a way out. Ripple Heights team met with integrated farmers to encourage circular agriculture and the collection and production of bio-fertilizers locally where animal waste can be collected and processed into organic liquid biofertilizers for use on the farm, this will reduce and eliminate biomagnification along the food chain. An eco-friendly replacement for non-biodegradable pesticides is a local pesticide formula containing a combination of garlic and ginger soaked in water for a few days and then sprayed on the farmland which is very effective to eliminate pests and diseases from the farmland without tampering with the biodiversity integrity of the farm area.
This is cheaper, safer, and more efficient as these crops can be planted as a side crop on the farmland for this purpose. The planting of Open Pollinated Variety (OPV) that are resistant to pests and diseases, drought, and are viable can be adopted.
Deliberate efforts should be made by farmers to implement sustainable agricultural practices. It is imperative to promote environmental restoration programs to save mother earth as there is no planet B. The onus lies on every farmer to do their quota and stop harmful practices for sustainable food production for a secure future.