The Central Bank of Nigeria, German Embassy in Nigeria and one of the leading non-governmental organization devoted to Environmental advocacy, the International Centre for Energy, Environment & Development (ICEED) kick-started a program in Abuja yesterday which may go a long way in reducing the dangers Nigerians could face as the threats of climate change loom on the country.
In a notable collaborative manner, the three bodies commenced a workshop that would lead to the development of climate protection mechanism for Nigeria’s farmers through the provision of insurance services. The objective is to expand the coverage of agricultural insurance to Nigeria’s farmers.
Agriculture accounts for 42% of the Nigerian GDP and employs about 65% of labour. Over 90% of Nigeria’s farms are rain-fed. Today, climate change is one of the greatest threats to the country’s agriculture as unpredictability of the season and intensity of rains is beginning to affect the circles and volumes of cultivation and cropping nation-wide.
Although there has been no formal report from the Federal Ministry of Environment on this negative effect, the First National Communication sent to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change by the Ministry clearly pointed out this looming danger. The Communication was prepared in 2007 while the update is still being awaited to be finalized.
As a result of the threat of climate change to the country’s agriculture, efforts of the Federal and State Governments at reducing poverty, meet the Millennium Development Goals and the national development agenda may just be on the way to the brink unless the initiative of the CBN, German Embassy and ICEED becomes a major national priority.
Expansion of access to financial services is crucial in modernising agriculture and building resilience among farmers. However, less than 5% of total bank lending to the private sector goes to agriculture. And less than one percent of Nigeria’s farmers have access to insurance services. This cannot be allowed to continue if Nigeria sincerely wants to develop.
Early January, the Banking Sector announced its readiness for voluntary Sustainability Principle in Banking facility access, this readiness must be properly encouraged and developed in synergy with the Agricultural Insurance Scheme that will recognise climate impacts on agriculture as a major factor that must taken into consideration by the Banking and Insurance Industry.
According experts in climate change adaptation and mitigation, there is a compelling need for the Federal and the State Governments to actively encourage agricultural insurance to expand its frontiers to cover loss and damages arising from climate change.
The Central Bank of Nigeria has set up the Nigerian Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL). NIRSAL provides measures for comprehensive reform of agricultural financing, including insurance services. This initiative of the bank should be supported now by the National Assembly in order to give it a legal backing and forestall a situation where the country could be embarrassed in the near future.
One conclusion that every expert on climate change and its impacts on Nigeria has always reached is that there would be extreme negative effect on Nigerian agriculture and agricultural yields. This in turn could lead to social strive and wide-spread communal violence arising from competition for scarce resources to support life.
This thus points to the fact that climate impacts on agriculture in Nigeria should be ranked as a major national security issue and be treated as such.
Nigeria cannot afford to wait and allow the danger catch up with the country before a major national attention is given to issue of making Nigerian agriculture resilient to climate change. As a result of the level of education of most Nigerian Farmers especially in respect of issues of climate change, a lot of famers may not be adequately equipped to adapt to the extreme climate events and the losses that will arise.
By Rotimi Ajayi, Vanguard