We are losing means of livelihood to climate change – Kuje farmers

We are losing means of livelihood to climate change – Kuje farmers

Farmers at the Chibiri community in Kuje Area Council of Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have continued to recount how they are losing their harvest which is the means of their livelihood to hotness in weather conditions that they say are being propelled by climate change.

Driving into the community from Gwagwalada Area Council which is about 15 kilometres away, on both sides of the road one sees massive empty dry lands with no crops grown on them. An indication that suggests a clear impact of climate change on the environment.

In a focused group discussion among the community farmers with MAWA-Foundation, in different narratives, the farmers recounted how they are recording huge poor maize harvest as a result of a shortage of rainfall and excess hot weather condition. A situation many of them attributed to climate change that brought a massive change in weather conditions.

Mr. Nasiru Salihu, one of the farmers that participated in the group discussion, disclosed that in the last three years, many farmers in the community harvested over 20 bags of maize. Still, at the moment, because of a change in weather conditions that have brought hotness in temperature and acute shortage of rainfall, farmers struggle to harvest a bag of maize at the end of the planting season. A situation together with his colleagues say is posing a huge threat to their, income, well-being, and livelihoods.

“In the last three years, many farmers in this community harvested over 20 bags of maize, with the current change in weather that has brought an acute shortage of rainfall, we struggle to harvest a bag,” Salihu said.

Corroborating his claim, Mr. Jibrin Zozo, another farmer narrated how the community farmers are losing yam harvest to the extremely hot weather condition that is affecting their storage facilities leading to the decay of many tubers.

Explaining the incident, Mr. Zozo said the change in weather has ushered in excessive heat that is leading to the decay of yam tubers inside the storage facilities. According to him, farmers store their yams in rooms inside their houses or in designated houses outside their homes. He, however, pointed out that the excessive heat that comes with the change in weather is making the Zink roof and wall extremely hot leading to the generation of heat that makes tubers of yam decay.

“The excessive heat one experiences inside a yam storage facility is like that of an oven in a bread bakery, under that condition, tubers of yam must decay, and in the end, farmers are the greatest losers,” Zozo said.

Mr. Dogara Yusuf, another farmer that participated in the group discussion, speaking in a very disturbing tone, said the loss of yam tubers to excessive heat as a result of a change in weather is making farmers lose income, pushing them into poverty and hunger. This is even as the farmers in affirmative voices said the development appears to be a great threat to their survival and may likely lead to an unbearable food crisis.

“Losing our yams to excessive heat as a result of a change in weather that breeds a hot atmosphere, is a dangerous happening to farmers that must be immediately addressed to save the nation from hunger,” Yusuf said.

Chibiri community farmers discussing climate change with MAWA
Chibiri community farmers discussing climate change with MAWA official 

Mr. Nasiru Salihu, a farmer that led his colleagues to the discussion meeting, while acknowledging how climate change is impacting the community with the farmers being the worse hit, disclosed that they are adopting local initiative (crop rotation) as a means for adaptation and resilience.

According to Salihu, all the farmers in the community have good knowledge of climate change and are addressing it using local knowledge in the form of shifting cultivation. This is even as he disclosed that the farmers do not attribute the impact of climate change to witches and wizards as it is obtainable in other communities across the FCT.

“We have good knowledge of the climate change impacts, we do not attribute them to the handiwork of witches and wizards as farmers in other communities do, we are working in synergy for mitigation, adaptation, and resilience,” Salisu said.

Although the farmers at the group discussion affirmed their knowledge of climate change, they appealed to the government and other development partners to make huge commitments and investments in educating the rural communities about climate change.  They argued that education and awareness are very central because there are a good number of uninformed farmers in the different communities that need to be educated and sensitized.

A senior official from the Department of Environment in the Kuje Area Council who spoke to MAWA-Foundation via a telephone conversation and wants his identity to be concealed disclosed that the Area Council Authority is aware of the climate impact on the community, and is working to address the issue

“The government is aware of climate change impact on the communities, especially the farmers, we are setting out special funds as part of our effort to address it,” the official told MAWA.

The Nigerian state has shown commitment to addressing climate change and its consequences are now becoming obvious with the rural farmers appearing to be the worst hit. And this includes the Climate Change Act, the establishment of  Climate Change Council, the establishment of Department of Climate Change in the Ministry of Environment, and active participation in international meetings and conventions on climate change discussion. Good as the efforts seem, the state is yet to record success stories pointing to how she is addressing climate change beyond political pronouncements and foreign jamborees.

From what we have seen on the field having held focused group discussions with farmers across the six Area Councils in FCT regarding climate change, the state and development partners must make considerable investments in climate change awareness in the rural communities. And, in designing climate change interventions, the locals must be involved in the design and implementation. That way success and sustainability will be achieved as they will own the process, run with it, and protect it against failure.

This report was produced by MAWA Foundation with the support of MEEDAN

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