Conservationists Task Farmers on Agroforestry to Mitigate Climate Change

Eme Offiong, Calabar

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A conservationists nonprofit organisation known as Biakwan Light Green Initiative (BLGI) has advised Nigerian Cocoa farmers to embrace agroforestry practice as one of the potential solution to climate change.

The group, with support from GEF-SGP (Global Environment Facility – Small Grant Project) Nigeria, said that the focus of its organisation was to assist communities explore the nexus between climate change, crop production, food security, poverty alleviation and gender inclusiveness.

The Group’s Executive Director, Peter Bette said that by integrating trees and shrubs into the agricultural landscapes, agroforestry can help remove carbon, improve soil health, enhance biodiversity, and provide additional income streams for farmers.

Mr Bette further stated, “our organisation is deeply concerned about the devastating effects of climate change on the cocoa farming communities of Boki in Cross River State, including the lack of rainfall with increasing high temperatures in the area. 

“The impact of the environmental crisis in the region is evidence of joblessness, hunger, food insecurity and increased poverty mostly at this period the country is passing through tough economic measures,” he said.

Continuing, he said, “this is a call to action for cocoa farmers to embrace nature-based solutions mostly planting trees in their farms to reduce the scourge of the stressor of climate, since research has shown that agroforestry remains an excellent strategy to help cocoa farmers cope with climate and avoid further deforestation in new cocoa production areas.”

Government concern

The conservationist emphasized the need for government to pay priority attention to the devastating impact of logging and unsustainable farming practices in the area, disclosing that series of concerns expressed by the forest communities particularly the women seemed to have been ignored.

Mr Bette said that although the government was yet to take concrete action that would enable community farmers deal with the challenges of climate change, on its part, the organisation was not oblivious of the damaging impact of climate change on food and cash crops, which has resulted to several losses including the loss of flora and fauna.

According to him, “Boki local government area of Cross River State is one of Nigeria’s major cocoa-producing zones. Now, over 70 percent of their farms are affected by climate change, resulting in low productivity and increased economic losses with women, children and the vulnerable being mostly affected.”

He told some journalists in Calabar, the capital of Cross River State, southern Nigeria that the organisation was now pioneering a community-led forest management strategy aimed at promoting adaptation principles in the area.

Mr Bette hinted, “this will enable the community to properly understand how environmental issues affect them and why they must take definite actions and interventions that would provide succour to the people as well as enhance better yields.

“We are determined to assist the farmers, especially cocoa farmers, appreciate the benefits of planting trees as buffers for cocoa plants against the scourging heat and water stressors amongst others,” he added.

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