GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE AND FOOD SECURITY: IMPLICATIONS FOR THE NIGERIAN ARMY
1. The world has witnessed a change in climatic conditions over the years due to the increased emission of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. These emissions, caused mainly by burning of fossil fuels such as coal, have depleted the ozone layer leading to an increase in global temperatures. Global climate change refers to a change in the state of the climate that can be identified by changes in the variability of its properties over an extended period. These changes have resulted in melting of glaciers, rising sea levels, desertification and extreme weather patterns across the globe. In addition, available fertile lands for agricultural activities and food production have been reduced. This reduction has affected the ability of state and non-state actors to guarantee food security.
2. According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), food security is:
“A situation that exists when all people at all times have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for a healthy and active life”.
The definition by the FAO reinforces the idea that availability of food alone does not translate to food security. This definition has therefore been widely accepted in academia and will be adopted for this paper.
3. In Nigeria, agriculture has always played a leading role in the economy due to the availability of arable land. The federal government had sufficient food to utilise locally and export the surplus. For example, the groundnut pyramids in the north, cocoa mountains in the west and rubber plantations in the mid-west guaranteed food security in the country. However, the discovery of oil and global climate change, among other factors, reduced the availability of agricultural products. This led to a steady decline in food availability and affected food security in Nigeria. The NA, as a subset of the Nigerian society is affected by this challenge as soldiers and their families are beset by the decline in food availability. It is as a result of this that this paper seeks to proffer solutions to the implications of global climate change and food security on the NA. The paper will be limited to food security in Nigeria from 2010 to date. The paper will first give an overview on global climate change and then consider the effects of global climate change on food security in Nigeria. Thereafter, the implications of food security on NA personnel will be examined and finally, the way forward will be discussed.
4. The aim of this paper is to examine the implications of global climate change and food security on the NA with a view to making recommendations.
OVERVIEW OF GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE
5. Global Climate change is a general phenomenon that refers to the alteration in all aspects of the Earth’s atmosphere. This alteration affects rainfall patterns, winds and sea currents among others and is normally viewed as the combination of different natural forces occurring over varied timescales. Since the dawn of human evolution, climate change has involved an exclusively human-caused element which has become more important in the period of industrialisation over the past 2 centuries. The changes in climatic conditions are caused by variations in air temperature due to global warming. Global warming refers specifically to the warming of surface air that can be traced to human causes.
6. Global climate change and global warming are used interchangeably in some literature to mean the same thing. However, the concepts are different and should not be used interchangeably. The 2 concepts relate to the ’cause’ and ‘effect’ although not directly related in time and space. The effects of increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere lead to global warming which in turn result in changes in climatic conditions. Most greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere by the burning of fossil fuels for manufacturing, transportation, cooking, electrical generation and heating. In addition, the natural decay of organic materials, deforestation, and land-clearing activities also release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Most of the causes of global warming are attributed to industrialisation. In a bid to develop societies, humans have conducted activities that have increased greenhouse gases emission. This relates to the law of systems thinking that “today’s problems come from yesterday’s solutions”.
7. To address the effects of global climate change, 2 major treaties were developed; the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol outlines the regulation of greenhouse gases released through human activities in order to reduce the effects of global warming around the world. Despite this policy however, greenhouse gases are increasingly released through human activity the world over and this has led to rising temperatures, glacial melting, flooding and erosion of arable lands among others. The erosion of arable lands creates challenges for agricultural production which in turn affects food security. Nations would need to adhere strictly to the provisions of the treaties to reduce the effects of climate change on food security.
EFFECTS OF GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE ON FOOD SECURITY IN NIGERIA
8. To better understand the effects of global climate change on food security in Nigeria, it is necessary to outline the cycle of events involved in both concepts. Global warming leads to increased atmospheric temperatures which in turn leads to increased climate change. This increased climate change leads to increased land degradation and reduced food security. Reduced food security results in additional farming activities involving bush burning and land clearing which leads back to increased global warming.
9. Nigeria remains a largely agrarian economy despite its dependence on petroleum resources. The agricultural sector provides over 40 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with about 70 per cent of the population productively engaged in farming. Nigeria has about 79 million hectares of arable land, of which about 32 million hectares are cultivated. Over 90 per cent of agricultural production is rain-fed and subsistence farming accounts for about 70 per cent of all farm holdings.
Subsistence farming contributes to a small extent to global warming through bush burning and other poor land management practices, but bears the full impact of climate change effects. Some of the most profound and direct impacts of global climate change in Nigeria are in the area of agriculture. The increase in temperatures and reduction in rainfall have reduced yields for grain and other crops, resulting in substantial impact on food security in Nigeria.
10. The impact on food security in Nigeria is manifested in reduced productivity and unaffordable prices which lead to food insecurity. In terms of productivity, issues such as deforestation, desertification, soil degradation, erosion and flooding affect the ability to generate arable lands for agricultural activities. For example, desertification in the north is extending southward at the rate of 0.6 km annually while the rainforest ecosystem in the south which occupied nearly 10 per cent of the country’s land mass in 1934 has shrunk to about 5 per cent today. These statistics portend serious implications for agricultural potential in Nigeria due to rising temperatures. The increasing heat and water stress has resulted in a reduction in vegetation and overall agricultural production. This will lead to a decline in available food products thereby undermine food security in the country. In addition, this will reduce the ability of society to meet their food demands. As part of the Nigerian society, personnel of the NA will also be affected by this inability to meet their basic food requirements.
11. In terms of unaffordable prices, farmers are becoming more aware of the effects of climate change. For example, farmers in the north, where most food crops and livestock originate, farmers attribute the reduced levels of rainfall to drought and aridness. This has led to an inability to cultivate the same crops as they did in the past 30 to 50 years and increased costs of production due to the need for additional agrochemicals and pesticides. The increased cost of production results in higher cost of food products in the markets which affects the ability of NA personnel to acquire these products. This inability eventually impacts on the NA in various ways which will be highlighted in subsequent paragraphs. There is therefore the need for AHQ to develop measures to reduce the effects of climate change and food security on its personnel.
IMPLICATIONS OF FOOD SECURITY ON THE NIGERIAN ARMY
12. The NA, as a significant part of society, is beset by the same effects of climate change and food security that affect the larger society. The most profound impact of climate change and food security on the NA is in the effectiveness of personnel. As earlier highlighted, the reduced productivity of food crops results in a decline in food security. The unavailability of products in the markets means that NA personnel are unable to purchase food for themselves and their families. For example, a soldier who is deployed to conduct Internal Security (IS) operations in a state and his family is unable to purchase foodstuff will be unable to commit himself to his IS duties.
13. Similarly, the rising cost of food products due to increased costs of production and use of additional agricultural chemicals affect the ability of NA personnel to provide food for their families. For example, a soldier who could purchase sufficient amount of food for a particular cost would be unable to obtain the same quantity due to increased costs. This could lead to frustration and may drive the soldier to seek alternative means of income to afford food for his or her family. This could also lead to distractions for the soldier and a resultant ineffectiveness for the NA. The individual limitations on the performance of personnel would lead to reduced effectiveness in the NA. To address this implication, the NA could put measures in place such as the development of farms and sensitization of personnel to enhance food security for its personnel.
THE WAY FORWARD
14. Having considered the implication of food security on the NA, it is necessary to outline strategies to reduce these effects. These strategies are formulated based on selected options in order to mitigate the challenges of food security in Nigeria that affect NA personnel. The NA could leverage on the progresses recorded in the establishment of ranches to develop farms and small reserves for food production. These farms could be established within the areas already designated as ranches to conserve land and make it easier to manage. The farms could undertake production of cash crops such as rice, maize, millet, yams and beans to mention a few. The production of these crops would need to adopt measures that will increase crop yields to avoid under-productivity and increased costs. The farms could either be managed by NA personnel after specialized training to develop their capacities or by a professional agricultural company. The latter would be preferable as it will allow personnel to concentrate on their primary responsibility of soldiering.
15. The NA could also consider the establishment of a food and nutrition department under AHQ DOAL. This department would be saddled with the responsibility of managing the proposed farms in addition to drawing up policies to manage the effects of global climate change and food security. The department would need to liaise with various stakeholders in the agriculture industry to improve its capacity to ensure food security for the NA. This will eventually have an effect in ensuring food security for the larger society in Nigeria. A proposed organogram of the department of food and nutrition is at Annex A.
16. The effects of global climate change on food security have a direct bearing on NA personnel. Many NA personnel and their families contribute to emission of greenhouse gases due to practices such as bush burning and mismanagement of waste. There is therefore the need for personnel to be aware of the causes and effects of global warming and climate change. Consequently, the NA could partner with the Ministry of Agriculture and other organisations to develop awareness for its personnel. This could be organised through seminars, workshops and courses.