First Regional Workshop on Climate-Smart Soil in Nigeria
Soil plays a vital role in the Earth’s ecosystem and earth system functions that support the delivery of primary ecosystem services. Healthy soils are fundamental for food security, mitigation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and adaptation towards climate change. Excessive and improper land use leads to erosion, nutrient depletion, and other forms of degradation, which severely affects the productivity of the soils and the potential for mitigating climate change. The majority of the world’s soil resources are in only fair, poor or very poor conditions, with African soils being the most severely degraded.
Improving soil health especially in agricultural lands will help address the problem of degradation. In the last 2 decades, droughts & floods have become regular and more frequent, creating significant challenges for the players in the agricultural value chain, especially the farmers, policy makers, extension workers and donors. Sustainable soil management (SSM) practices have been promoted as the approach for boosting healthy soils to address food security, mitigation, and adaptation challenges. These practices aim to, for example: i) improve the long-term soil fertility and ii) increase soil organic carbon (SOC) sequestration. Most of the major players across the agricultural value chain have recognized SOC’s potential and are setting up SOC sequestration-based targets to reduce GHG emissions. However, only a few African countries have proposed specific mitigation programs, most of which are only at the concept stage.
Climate change is one of the most significant challenges facing humans. Warming trends and changes in precipitation patterns, with increase in the frequency of occurrences of extreme weather events such as droughts, floods and storms have increasingly severe impacts. Additionally, soil health can influence the impact of these climate changes on crops and agricultural yields. Smallholder farmers that depend on rain-fed agriculture are particularly vulnerable to these changes. Their future livelihoods in terms of food security, health, education, and standard of living in this changing temperature is a growing concern.
The biological, chemical and physical function of ‘soil health’ deteriorates with changing climate due to increasing turnover of soil organic matter, decreasing soil moisture content & soil water capacity, nutrient depletion, increased vulnerability to erosion and other degradation processes, harming soil structure. Climate change is linked to agriculture and especially to soil health as it controls soil vital processes and functions along with having an intrinsic effect on crop productivity which contributes towards food security and sustainability.
According to Nigeria’s updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) 2021, the AFOLU sector continues to be critical in the move to a low carbon and climate resilient economy. AFOLU is the second largest contributor to total Greenhouse Gas emissions, contributing 25% of national GHG in 2018, Agriculture contributing 62.6% of the 87MtCO2eq. NDC Climate Smart Agriculture plans aim to sustainably increase agricultural production, enhance food security and development using an integrated approach. Thus, there is an opportunity to integrate solutions for improved soil health to support both food security and climate targets in the country.
The African Climate Action Partnership (AfCAP) and the and the National Council on Climate Change (NCCC) thus held the first regional workshop on climate smart soil in Abuja, Nigeria. The workshop brought together policymakers, scientists, and practitioners to explore the critical nexus between soil health, climate change, and food security. It aimed to promote soil health and address compounding challenges in Nigeria.
To find out more about the workshop, the outcomes and recommendations made during the event see the reports below.