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Agriculture plays critical role in Africa’s development, livelihoods, and sustainability, protect it from Climate Change, says Onuigbo

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Agriculture has been described as not merely an economic sector; but a lifeline for millions of people, particularly women who are the backbone of African agriculture.

Agriculture employs more than half of Africa’s workforce out of which smallholder farmers constitute 60 percent of the population in low-income African countries. Africa has 60 percent of the world’s uncultivated arable land, and agriculture accounts for 30-40 percent of its GDP (According to World Bank and Africa Development Bank reports).

These were the words of Rep. Sam Onuigbo, Chairman, Security, Special Interventions and Climate Change, Governing Board, Northeast Development Commission (NEDC) during his goodwill message at the “First Conference on accelerating Agricultural Adaptation in Africa” in Abuja.

Rep. Onuigbo noted that Nigeria is one of the eleven countries selected as intervention zones for the Great Green Wall in the Sahel region, and some of the states in the zone fall within the Sahel and Great Green Wall Belt. However, the impact of climate change in the region has led to drought, desertification, drying up of Lake Chad, loss of livelihoods, and forced migration which fuels insecurity and insurgency.


According to the Rep. Member “As the sponsor of Nigeria’s Climate Act and an advocate for climate change awareness and action, I cannot emphasize enough the urgency of this issue and the critical role that agriculture plays in Africa’s development, livelihoods, and sustainability”.

Read full statement below 👇⬇️👇

GOODWILL MESSAGE BY REP. (SIR) SAM ONUIGBO FCIS, FNIM, KJW, CHAIRMAN, SECURITY, SPECIAL INTERVENTIONS AND CLIMATE CHANGE, GOVERNING BOARD, NORTHEAST DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION (NEDC) DURING THE FIRST CONFERENCE ON ACCELERATING AGRICULTURAL ADAPTATION IN AFRICA IN ABUJA, NIGERIA, HELD AT THE ABUJA CONTINENTAL HOTEL, ON OCTOBER 16-18, 2023.
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Agriculture employs more than half of Africa’s workforce out of which smallholder farmers constitute 60 percent of the population in low-income African countries. Africa has 60 percent of the world’s uncultivated arable land, and agriculture accounts for 30-40 percent of its GDP (According to World Bank and Africa Development Bank reports).

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The North East Geopolitical Zone of Nigeria which occupies one-third of the country’s 923,769 square kilometres of land mass is very rich in agriculture because of its arable land. Nigeria is one of the eleven countries selected as intervention zones for the Great Green Wall in the Sahel region, and some of the states in the zone fall within the Sahel and Great Green Wall Belt. The Africa Union (AU), conceived the idea of a Great Green Wall in 2007 to combat desertification. Agriculture is the mainstay of the people of that zone. However, the impact of climate change in the region has led to drought, desertification, drying up of Lake Chad, loss of livelihoods, and forced migration which fuels insecurity and insurgency.


As the sponsor of Nigeria’s Climate Act and an advocate for climate change awareness and action, I cannot emphasize enough the urgency of this issue and the critical role that agriculture plays in Africa’s development, livelihoods, and sustainability.


Therefore, today, I stand before you to address a matter of utmost importance; “The future of African agriculture and the pressing Climate crises.’’ This is why the North East Development Commission (NEDC) where I am privileged to serve as the Chairman of the Security, Special Interventions, and Climate Change Committee of the Governing Board recognizes and prioritizes Agriculture as one of the pillars of the development agenda of the Commission to restore and sustain the livelihoods of the people of the zone. One approach to addressing climate change within the agriculture sector is Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA).


As the organizers of this first-of-its-kind conference have highlighted, agriculture is not merely an economic sector; it’s a lifeline for millions of people, particularly women who are the backbone of African agriculture. It is, without a doubt, a linchpin in achieving the sustainable development goals set out by the African Union’s Vision 2063 and the United Nations’ Agenda 2030.

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The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned that Africa will bear the brunt of the unprecedented challenge from global climate change, and will consequently experience more frequent and intense heat waves, droughts, severe floods, storms, and wildfires, etc. which is likely to impact 90 percent of its population. These climate-induced disasters are causing food insecurity, forced migration, and pushing vulnerable communities to the brink.
The agricultural sector, responsible for almost one-quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions, is both a victim and a contributor to climate change. With climate change threatening to push 122 million more people into extreme poverty by 2030, we can no longer view agriculture and food security in isolation from climate action. Efforts to address climate change within the agricultural sector have been recognized globally, particularly through Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the Paris Agreement.


Nigeria has taken a significant step forward with its Climate Change Act 2021, which now serves as a beacon of hope in addressing the complex challenges posed by climate change in the agricultural sector. By promoting nature-based solutions, conservation, and sustainable management of forests, Nigeria is leading the way towards a more climate-resilient future for agriculture.
For instance, section 26, among others, strongly prescribes the integration of Climate Change into various disciplines and subjects across all educational levels, while sections 27, 28, and 29 promote nature-based solutions, REDD+ Registry, and Natural Capital Accounts as strategies and practices that use natural ecosystems and processes to combat climate change.


Africa’s youth population is rapidly growing, and transformation in agriculture is essential to create economic opportunities. It is crucial to involve youth and women in sustainable agriculture practices to ensure food security, poverty reduction, and economic growth.

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Additionally, gender-sensitive approaches are needed to address climate change’s differential impact on women and men. The importance of these critical segments informed their inclusion as members of the National Council on Climate Change chaired by the President and Commander-in-Chief.
We acknowledge the pivotal role of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and its potential to drive agricultural transformation and resilience across the continent. While CAADP has noble pillars, there are concerns that corporate interests have prioritized commercialization over resilience building, leading to inadequate funding for sustainable land management and water resources.


In his inaugural address, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu GCFR declared, “Agricultural hubs will be created throughout the nation to increase production and engage in value-added processing. The livestock sector will be introduced to the best modern practices and steps taken to minimize the perennial conflict over land and water resources in this sector. Through these actions, food shall be made more abundant yet less costly. Farmers shall earn more while the average Nigerian pays less.’’


I therefore commend President Tinubu for creating the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security to ensure food security and a robust economy.


As advocates for climate action, we must applaud and support such initiatives that pave the way for a sustainable and resilient agricultural sector. It is through collaborative efforts and innovative solutions that we can mitigate the impacts of climate change and secure a better future for all.
Let us continue to work together to champion climate action, protect vulnerable communities, and ensure a sustainable future for generations to come.
Let me conclude by thanking the organizers of this very important conference.
Again, I thank you for your time.

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