Promoting soil health to address compounding challenges in Nigeria
In a proactive move towards promoting soil health in the face of food insecurity and climate change, the African Climate Action Partnership (ACAP) and the National Council on Climate Change (NCCC) recently co-hosted the first regional workshop on climate smart soil in Abuja, Nigeria. The workshop brought together policymakers, scientists, and practioners to explore the critical nexus between soil health, climate change, and food security.
The workshop was organised in response to Nigeria’s president, Bola Tinubu’s, declaration of a state of emergency on food security. The event acknowledged the challenges posed by climate change to agriculture, particularly in Nigeria, where vulnerability to climate variability is high. During the two day workshop the need for holistic approaches that address the interconnected issues of soil degradation, changing weather patterns, and their impact on food production were raised.
Dr Salisu Dahiru, the Director General for the National Council on climate Change in Nigeria highlighted the urgency of the situation. “we are faced with sobering realities. Soil degradation, loss of arable land, and declining agricultural productivity pose significant threats to global food security. Climate change exacerbates these challenges further, with extreme weather events, rising temperatures, and unpredictable rainfall patterns wreaking havoc on agricultural systems worldwide. However, amidst these challenges lies an opportunity to recognize the immense potential of healthy soils as a solution to both food security and climate change”.
The discussions on the first day focused on the interlinkages and global advances being made in understanding the soil-climate-food nexus. This included presentations from leading organisations and initiatives in this field, including ICRAF-CIFOR, the Coalition of Action for Soil Health (CA4SH), and 4per1000. Policy opportunities were also highlighted within the context of Nigeria’s NDC as well as potential synergies between the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD).
The workshop also addressed potential solutions and roadmaps for increasing soil health. Presenters on day 2 focused on methods for measuring soil emissions and mapping soils, solutions for sustainable fertiliser and land use practices as well as decision-support tools for improved soil management. Delegates were also introduced to the Soil Initiative for Africa and the African Fertiliser and Soil Health (AFSH) Action Plans which will be put forward at the African Fertiliser and Soil Health Forum in 2024.
The workshop concluded with discussion on how Nigeria can domesticate the Soil Initiative for Africa and develop their own action plans. Delegates expressed the need to improve cross sectoral collaboration and improvements in data access and analysis capacity as critical to further this action.
The collaborative nature of the event enforced a sense of the shared need to collective take these actions forward. Delegates noted that the event had created a valuable network of stakeholders and there was a need to expand the stakeholders involved to ensure all relevant actors were present. It was noted that it was critical to maintain the momentum from the event and form a technical committee to take this topic forward in Nigeria.
As the workshop concluded, a sense of optimism and determination prevailed. The exchange of knowledge, experiences, and ideas underscored the potential for strengthening Nigeria’s response to food insecurity and climate change. The NCCC pledged ongoing support for initiatives emerging from the workshop, ensuring that the momentum generated will translate into concrete actions that fortify the intersection of soil health, climate change resilience, and food security in Nigeria.