FUTA DON CANVASSES ENERGY TRANSITION AND CLIMATE SMART AGRICULTURE TO TACKLE CRISES IN THE TWO SECTORS
For Nigeria to overcome her energy crisis, a hybrid approach through a mixture of electricity from the national grid and stand-alone renewable energy sources like solar (energy from the sun) and wind powered sources is a way out. A Professor of Meteorology and Climate Science, Emmanuel Chilekwu Okogbue stated this while delivering the 153rd inaugural lecture of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, FUTA on Tuesday 2nd May, 2023. Okogbue who spoke on the topic, “The Sun in The Service of Man”, said in spite of possessing abundant crude oil reserves, Nigeria has not been able to get the energy generation and supply needs of the country right. According to him, “It therefore makes sense for one to begin to wonder if renewable energy, especially off-grid renewable energy, could then be the remedy for our thus-far seemingly intractable energy malaise.”
Referring to the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 2 of the United Nations which seeks sustainable solutions to end hunger in all its forms by 2030 and to achieve food security, he said this is attainable with adequate utilization of solar energy. The don said, “Solar energy is essential to agriculture-cultivating land, producing crops and raising livestock. The greenhouse is another early solar development. By converting sunlight to heat, greenhouses make it possible to grow plants out of season and in climates that may not be suited for them.”
Professor Okogbue, whose research efforts and contribution to knowledge spread across solar radiation measurement and modelling, solar energy and wind energy potential, climate change impacts on agricultural production and food security among others, called on government at all levels to encourage wind energy companies to deliver energy to the remote agrarian parts of the country where access to the national grid is difficult because of their topography. He pleaded that issues around the high cost of solar energy systems which has made them uncompetitive compared to fossil fuel should be addressed while partnerships, patronage by government, advocacy and capacity development to bring down the cost of the products and make them more acceptable alternatives to the populace should be pursued.
Addressing natural disasters ravaging Nigeria and other parts of the continent he said, “Nigeria and indeed the whole of West Africa is inundated with widespread extreme events like droughts, floods, desertification and the consequent land degradation, especially in the face of changing climate, hence there is the need to adapt remote sensing techniques to monitor and develop robust early warning systems that can help minimize potential risks and damages associated with these extreme events.” He added that more ecological fund should be made available towards research to continuously look dedicatedly into all aspects of Drought-Desertification-Flood-Land-Degradation (DDFLD) nexus, its impact and mitigation and adaptation strategies.
Harping on the issue of food security and how to further achieve it, Professor Okogbue said the year 2030 set by SDG to ensure sustainable food production systems and implement resilient agricultural practices that will strengthen capacity for adaptation to climate change, extreme weather, drought etc. to increase agricultural productivity and food security is just 7 years away. Thus, to achieve the goal there is need for a strong, smart and sustainable agricultural sector that has ambition to improve the integration of agriculture development and climate responsiveness. He therefore recommended that the three goals that Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) interventions seek to achieve namely: sustainably increasing agricultural productivity and incomes; adapting and building resilience to climate change; and reducing and/or removing greenhouse gases emissions, where possible be vigorously pursued at institutional, national and regional levels. He added that this will involve the adoption of collaborative approach in research and training that focuses on good agronomic practices, informed use of climate information, identification and use of drought-tolerant crop varieties, smart irrigation practices and downscaling all these to the small-holder farmers who today produce the bulk of the food we eat.
Okogbue recommended the use of Climate Smart Agriculture to achieve food security. He said “there is a need to understand the influence of climate on agricultural production and food security. This is where climate smart agricultural, (CSA), which is an integrated approach to maintaining landscapes- cropland, livestock, forests and fisheries, practices come in.” According to him, climate smart agriculture if vigorously and properly adapted will guarantee food security.
The Vice Chancellor, Professor Adenike Oladiji ,who Chaired the event, said Nigeria is endowed with natural resources that can make her overcome her energy challenge and also guarantee food security that will make her feed her populace and even export if properly utilized. She commended the cerebral delivery by Professor Okogbue, describing him as a well-rounded academic in his chosen field of study.