The Institute for Training Specialists in Agriculture and Agriculture (ARMTI) and the Regional Center of Education for Sustainable Development (RCE) held a seminar on efficient conversion technologies and sustainable land use for farmers, DANIEL ESSIET reports.
Across Nigeria, the impact of climate change, including frequent and severe droughts and floods, has led to a shortage of food, water and energy, especially in rural communities.
The development of forests for agriculture, as well as the production of charcoal and fuelwood are among the causes of deforestation.
Other factors include inadequate support for land use planning, poor agricultural and forest management practices, unused alternative livelihood options and poor market access for commodities and cash crops for farmers.
Promotional forests for agriculture are a major challenge for the Regional Center for the Study of Education for Sustainable Development (RCE), an international organization that helps Nigerians live a sustainable lifestyle, and the Institute for Agricultural and Rural Education (ARMTI).
RCE and ARMTI conducted outreach activities entitled “Charcoal Mining for Sustainable Development”.
The event selected farmers from communities in the states of Kogi and Kwara, as well as traditional rulers and leaders. These outreach activities were aimed at educating communities and farmers in connection with the adverse environmental impact of their activities on charcoal production. These include environmental, economic, health and climate change impacts.
The representative of RCE, Professor Albert Olaemi, said that Nigeria is losing its forests at a rate of 11.1% per year, which makes it the highest on earth.
According to him, about 13 million hectares are annually destroyed in tropical regions.
“There is tremendous evidence of the destructive effects of deforestation and the production of charcoal in the environment.
“The forests are cleared for logging, selling wood, subsistence farming and collecting wood for fuel, which remains a problem in Nigeria,” he said.
He added that poor planting rates and forest loss mean that Nigeria is experiencing deforestation.
He stressed that the importance of trees is to combat air pollution, improve water quality and provide opportunities for natural flood management, not to mention what they offer for wildlife and their productive potential for the rural economy.
The representative of RCE explained that fuelwood and charcoal are the main sources of energy for many households. “They are important sources of income and employment for rural households. In addition, this sector is informal, as it uses a large number of people in production and trade and makes a significant contribution to the household economy in rural areas, ”he said.
For some of the effects of deforestation, a university lecturer said: “Loss of biodiversity, depletion of water resources, air pollution and environmental disasters such as acid rain, desertification and flooding are some of the consequences of deforestation.
“Soil erosion, destabilization of the soil, migration of animal species and an increase in reflected solar radiation are also the result of deforestation.”
According to him, RCE proposes the creation of forest reserves, environmental processes, improved rainforest management and forestry programs as ways to combat deforestation in Nigeria.
He said that the center wants to plant at least 10 tree seedlings on each felled tree.
He said that the center proposed creating a plantation for the production of charcoal, since charcoal is an export commodity with a large market in the European Union (EU), the USA and Asia.
He said that RCE took part in education for sustainable development and seeks to encourage farmers to participate in finding viable solutions to local environmental problems to create a healthy and sustainable future for all.
ARMTI Executive Director Dr. Olufemi Oladunni warned that indiscriminate tree-cutting by farmers and handicrafts, among other things, if not verified, could lead to communities losing their forest reserves for deforestation. He said that urgent measures are being taken to prevent the complete disappearance of forests in the country.
His words: “The fact is that today the question of burning charcoal is burning in the foreground. We consider ourselves to be a bridge between people and politicians, linking the needs and desires of the former with the latter and informing people about the problems and consequences of politics as they affect them.
“Therefore, we are pleased to work with the Regional Center for Education for Sustainable Development (RCE) at this strategic workshop.”
According to him, finding ways to effectively monitor, manage and support the sustainable production and trade of wood fuel, especially charcoal, is crucial for Nigeria. He said that the institute is exploring ways to assist and organize actors in value chains.
Oladunni said the institute had selected 72 farmers in the states of Kvara and Kogi to sensitize deforestation. “When we learn about the environmental, socio-economic and medical impact of charcoal production, we will not need any legal harassment or threats to deter us; we would prefer to be the ones who would sensitize others against this practice, ”he added.
The task, he said, is to stop the use of firewood and charcoal for fuel in rural areas.
He urged Nigeria to practice deforestation, especially by villagers. “This is due to the fact that deforestation not only increases carbon emissions and hinders the fight against climate change, but also has environmental and social consequences for villagers, destroying their livelihoods and exacerbating the poverty cycle in communities,” he added.