Agriculture is an important sector of the Nigerian economy. In addition to providing Nigerians with much of their food, crops, livestock, and fisheries make significant contributions to the national economy and GDP. It remains the main source of livelihood for most rural communities. It is the source of raw materials used in the processing industries as well as a source of foreign exchange earnings for the country. The sustainability of the environment to provide all life support systems and the materials for fulfilling all developmental aspirations of man and animal is dependent on the suitability of the climate which is undergoing constant changes. Climate change and agriculture are interrelated processes, both of which take place on a global scale. Climate change affects agriculture and agriculture also affects climate change. Past climate can no longer  guide any agricultural investment design.


Agriculture contributes to climate change by

(1)      anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs), and

(2)      by the conversion of non-agricultural land (e.g., forests) into agricultural land.


Agriculture, forestry and land-use change is reported to have contributed around 20 to 25% of global annual emissions in 2010.

The climate has always been changing naturally, the current impact of human activities is causing the climate to change in an unnatural way and at a faster pace than ever before. This unnatural and human induced climate change is problematic as it is causing shifts in the normal climatic conditions such as rainfall and temperature, which in turn is placing pressure on the planet – s natural environment and having negative impacts on the planet – s people. Climate change is happening because humans are releasing and thus increasing the amount of heat-trapping gases in the earth – s atmosphere called – greenhouse gases – . Greenhouse gases occur naturally in the atmosphere and are important as they make the earth – s temperature warm enough for life to exist. Without these heat trapping gases the planet would be far too cold making it uninhabitable. However, as humans increase the amount of these gases in our atmosphere, more and more heat is trapped which in turn is causing the climate to change.In particular climate change is having a significant impact on agriculture,

Climate change affects agriculture in a number of ways, including through changes in average temperatures, rainfall, and climate extremes (e.g., heat waves); changes in pests and diseases; changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide and ground-level ozone concentrations; changes in the nutritional quality of some foods; and changes in sea leve. Agriculture and fisheries are highly dependent on specific climate conditions. Trying to understand the overall effect of climate change on the nation – s food supply can be difficult. Moderate increases in temperature and carbon dioxide (CO2) can be beneficial for some crops in some places. But to realize these benefits, nutrient levels, soil moisture, water availability, and other conditions must also be met.However, more severe warming, floods, and drought may reduce yields.Changes in the frequency and severity of droughts and floods could pose challenges for farmers and cattle rearers. Livestock may be at risk, both directly from heat stress and indirectly from reduced quality of their food supplyFisheries will be affected by changes in water temperature that shift species ranges, make waters more hospitable to invasive species, and change lifecycle timing, which could disrupt ecosystems. Overall, climate change could make it more difficult to grow crops, raise animals, and catch fish in the same ways and same places as people have done in the past. The effects of climate change also need to be considered along with other evolving factors that affect agricultural production, such as changes in farming practices and technology.

Since agriculture in Nigeria is mostly rain-fed and small-scale, food crop production in all the regions of Nigeria is heavily dependent on timing and length ofthe rainy season.It follows therefore that any change in climate is bound to impact its productivity in particular and other socio-economic activities in the country. This subjects the regions to a pronounced seasonality with four to six months of rainy season, in which most of the rain-fed food crop production takes place, and six to eight months of dry season with no opportunities for non-irrigated food production. Food production among small-scale farmers is, therefore, very dependent on the reliability of the onset of rains and the distribution of rainfall during the rainy season. Rain-fed agriculture is one of the most vulnerable livelihood and economic sectors to climate change in these regions.The impact could, however, be measured in terms of effects on crop growth, availability of soil water, soil erosion, incident of pest and diseases, sea level rises and decrease in soil fertility. Direct effects of climate variables such as air, temperature, humidity, wind speed and other climate factors influence animal performance such as growth, milk production, wool production and reproduction. Climate can also affect the quantity and quality of feed stuffs such as pasture, forage, and grain and also the severity and distribution of livestock diseases and parasite.Climate change is therefore a fundamental threat to global food security, sustainable development.


Some Key Words


Weather: The specific conditions of the atmosphere at a particular place and time, measured in terms of variables that include temperature, rainfall, cloudiness, humidity, air pressure, and wind.


Climate: The long-term average of conditions in the atmosphere, ocean, and ice sheets and sea ice described by statistics, such as means and extremes. Climate is generally defined as the average state of the atmosphere for a given time scale (hour, day, month, season, year, decade and so forth) and generally for a specified geographical region.


Climate Change: This is any change in climate over time, whether due to natural variability or as a result of human activity.It refers to any significant change in measures of climate (such as temperature, precipitation, or wind) lasting for an extended period (decades or longer). Climate change may result from – natural factors, such as changes in the sun’s intensity or slow changes in the Earth’s orbit around the sun or natural processes within the climate system (e.g. changes in ocean circulation); human activities that change the atmosphere’s composition (e.g. through burning fossil fuels) and the land surface (e.g. deforestation, reforestation, urbanization, desertification, etc.


Global warming: is the rising average temperature of the earth.


Adaptation to Climate Change is defined as: An adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or their effects, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities.


Mitigation: Actions to reduce the sources or increase the sinks of greenhouse gases. It includes strategies to reduce greenhouse gas sources and emissions and enhancing greenhouse gas sinks.


Impacts/ Implications of Climate Change on Nigerian Agriculture

Climate change is already affecting agriculture and is expected to further impact directly and indirectly food production. There is a growing consensus in the scientific literature that in the coming decades the world will witness higher temperatures and changing precipitation levels. Increase of mean temperature; changes in rain patterns; increased variability both in temperature and rain patterns; changes in water availability; the frequency and intensity of – extreme events – ; sea level rise and salinization; perturbations in ecosystems, all will have profound impacts on agriculture, forestry and fisheries. These effects are unevenly distributed across the world. Future climate change will likely negatively affect crop production in low latitude countries, while effects in northern latitudes may be positive or negative. The effects of this will lead to low/poor agricultural products.


Climate change affects food and water resources that are critical for livelihood in Africa where much of the population especially the poor, rely on local supply system that are sensitive to climate variation. Disruptions of existing food and water systems will have devastating implications for development and livelihood. These are expected to add to the challenges climate change already poses for poverty eradication. Climate change will probably increase the risk of food insecurity for some vulnerable groups, such as the poor.


Historical Climate Variability and Change:

There have been changes in Nigeria – s rainfall and temperature over the past decade. Average precipitation per year has decreased significantly in Nigeria by 3.5 mm per month per decade between 1960-2006..Between 1941 and 1970, only patches of the country around the extreme Northwest and extreme Northeast experienced late onset of rains. From 1971 to 2000, late onset of rains had spread to most parts, leaving only a narrow band in the middle of the country with normal conditions. In the same way, only a small patch of the country in the South west recorded early cessation of rains between 1941 and 1970, while from 1971 to 2000, early cessation of rains had covered most of the country. The combination of late onset and early cessation shortened the length of the rainy season in most parts of the country. Between 1941 and 2000, annual rainfall decreased by 2 – 8 mm across most of the country, but increased 2 – 4 mm in a few places, most significantly around the coastal South east. With respect to temperature changes from 1941 to 2000, there was evidence of long-term temperature increase in most parts of the country. Average maximum temperatures have been increasing in Nigeria with maximum temperatures ranging between 31-33 – C.The central eastern axis showed slight cooling. Average temperature at the extreme northeast, extreme northwest and extreme southwest increased by 1.4 – 1.9 oC.

Evidence has shown that climate change is already affecting crop yields in many countries.  This is particularly true in low-income countries, where climate is the primary determinant of agricultural productivity and adaptive capacities are low. Many African countries, which have their economies largely based on weather-sensitive agricultural productions systems like Nigeria, are particularly vulnerable to climate change.  This vulnerability has been demonstrated by the devastating effects of recent flooding in the Niger Delta region of the country and the various prolonged droughts that are currently witnessed in some parts of Northern region.Floods are a recurring natural hazard in Nigeria and have become more frequent throughout the country in the last couple of decades. Droughts negatively impact the socio-economic growth of Nigeria and are projected to become more severe in the future as a result of climate change.

The northeast region of Nigeria is increasingly becoming an arid environment at a very fast rate per year occasioned by fast reduction in the amount of surface water, flora and fauna resources on land.

The southern area of Nigeria largely known for high rainfall is currently confronted by irregularity in the rainfall and temperature is gradually increasing in the Guinea savannah zone of the country. In addition, the northern zone faces the threat of desert encroachment.


Agriculture – s impact on climate change

The agriculture sector has to produce more food and it will be certainly impacted by climate change. The issue is how and to what extent agriculture and food systems can contribute to climate change mitigation without compromising food and nutrition security.

Agriculture (crop and livestock) directly accounts for over tenpercent of global GHG emissions based on activities carried out in the fields and with livestock. Also, agriculture is a major driver of deforestation, which approimately accounts for an additional over ten percent of global GHG emissions. Finally, within food systems, reductions of emissions in some areas could lead to increases elsewhere. The main direct sources of GHG emissions in the agricultural sector are not only carbon dioxide (CO2). Agriculture is a source of nitrous oxide (N2O), accounting for 58 percent of total emissions, mostly by soils and through the application of fertilizers, and of methane (CH4), accounting for 47 percent of total emissions, essentially from livestock and rice cultivation. These emissions are dependent on natural processes and agricultural practices, which makes them more difficult to control and measure. On the other hand, agriculture is a key sector that, along with the forestry sector, if managed effectively. can lead to biological carbon capture and storage in biomass and soil, acting as – sinks – . Their management can play an essential role in managing climate change. As agricultural production is projected to increase in developing countries, so are agricultural emissions.

There are two ways by which agricultural production can contribute to mitigate climate change that are in line with the – food security first – objective. The first way is to improve efficiency by decoupling production growth from emissions growth. This involves reducing emissions per kilogram of food output (included in this calculation are the effects of emissions from reduced deforestation per kilogram of food). The second way is to enhance soil carbon sinks.This involves enhanced soil carbon sequestration, reduced tillage, improved grazing management, the restoration of organic soils and restoration of degraded lands.



Agriculture and food systems must undergo significant transformations in order to meet the related challenges of food security and climate change. Increasing resource efficiency is essential both to increase and ensure food security on the long term and to contribute to mitigate climate change.Addressing food security and climate change requires concerted and coordinated involvement and action of all stakeholders on a long term perspective.A new approach is therefore requiredto guide the needed changes of agricultural systems, given the necessity to jointly address food security and climate change.  Climate smart agriculture(CSA) however is not a new agricultural system, nor a set of practices, but an integrative approach to address the interlinked challenges between food security and climate change.It integrates the three dimensions of sustainable development (economic, social and environmental) by jointly addressing food security and climate challenges. CSA explicitly aims for three objectives:

  1. sustainably increasing agricultural productivity, to support equitable increases in farm incomes, food security and development;
  2. adapting and building resilience of agricultural and food security systems to climate change at multiple levels; and
  3. reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture (including crops, livestock and fisheries).


CSA is an approach to developing the technical, policy and investment conditions to achieve sustainable agricultural development for food security under climate change.Different elements which can be integrated in climate-smart agricultural approaches include:

  1. Management of farms, crops, livestock, aquaculture and capture fisheries to manage resources better, produce more with less while increasing resilience
  2. Ecosystem and landscape management to conserve ecosystem services that are key to increase at the same time resource efficiency and resilience
  3. Services for farmers and land managers to enable them to implement the necessary changes


Achieving the transformations required for CSA and meeting these multiple objectives requires an integrated approach that is responsive to specific local conditions. Coordination across agricultural sectors (e.g. crops, livestock, forestry and fisheries) as well as other sectors, such as withenergy and water sector development is essential to capitalize on potential synergies, reduce trade-offs and optimize the use of natural resources and ecosystem services.

CSA also aims to strengthen livelihoods and food security, especially of smallholders, by improving the management and use of natural resources and adopting appropriate methods and technologies for the production, processing and marketing of agricultural goods. To maximize the benefits and minimize the tradeoffs, CSA takes into consideration the social, economic, and environmental context where it will be applied. Repercussions on energy and local resources are also assessed. A key component is the integrated landscape approach that follows the principles of ecosystem management and sustainable land and water use.

CSA is not a single specific agricultural technology or practice that can be universally applied. It is an approach that requires site-specific assessments to identify suitable agricultural production technologies and practices. This approach:

–       addresses the complex interrelated challenges of food security, development and climate change, and identifies integrated options that create synergies and benefits and reduce trade-offs;

–        recognizes that these options will be shaped by specific country contexts and capacities and by the particular social, economic, and environmental situation where it will be applied;

–       assesses the interactions between sectors and the needs of different involved stakeholders;

–        identifies barriers to adoption, especially among farmers, and provides appropriate solutions in terms of policies, strategies, actions and incentives;

–       should prioritize the strengthening of livelihoods, especially those of smallholders, by improving access to services, knowledge, resources (including genetic resources), financial products and markets;

–       addresses adaptation and builds resilience to shocks, especially those related to climate change, as the magnitude of the impacts of climate change has major implications for agricultural and rural development;

considers climate change mitigation as a potential secondary co-benefit, especially in low-income, agricultural-based populations.

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