The government of the United Kingdom has said its LINKS programme implemented by Tetra Tech International Development has been piloting a couple of climate-smart farming initiatives in three Nigerian states since 2021.
This, it said in a statement Wednesday, has helped farmers across the three pilot states ( Kaduna, Kano and Jigawa) to increase yields and become more resilient in the face of climate change while reducing Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions in the country.
At a Climate Smart Agriculture results and lesson-sharing event held in Abuja on Wednesday, LINKS demonstrated that the project is starting to deliver impressive results, particularly the Systems of Rice Intensification (SRI).
SRI is a climate-smart practice that increases rice productivity and reduces methane emissions. It uses a cultivation system of alternate wetting and drying to create aerobic soil conditions that reduce methane production. The practice uses less seeds and less water whilst significantly increasing yields, and as such, it can increase farmer incomes whilst reducing GHG emissions.
It involves early transplanting of seedlings and wide spacing to allow the plants to flourish, alternative wetting and drying rather than flooding and using organic rather than chemical fertilisers.
According to the statement, a further benefit for wider society is the overall climate impact delivered by SRI.
It said rice production traditionally produces methane (globally contributing approximately 2.5 per cent of all human-induced GHG emissions, roughly the same as international air travel). This is set to grow in Nigeria with increasing consumption and production of paddy rice.
In his remarks, the LINKS programme Team Leader, Andrew Thorburn, said farmers were sceptical at first but that after four seasons, they now have over 26,000 farmers in Kano, Kaduna and Jigawa actively using SRI.
“The use of organic rather than chemical fertilisers equally meant that soil quality further improved every season, which continued to deliver improved results and increased resilience to changing weather, especially flooding,” he said.
On his part, the British Deputy High Commissioner in Lagos, Ben Llewellyn-Jones, who was represented by the FCDO Climate and Nature Lead in Abuja, Martine Sobey, said the UK government had a strong focus on supporting Nigeria to deliver its international climate commitments.
“We are particularly pleased to note that the Systems of Rice Intensification – SRI reduces the GHG emissions produced by rice growers by as much as 40 per cent and look forward to seeing SRI expand throughout Nigeria,” he said.
Meanwhile, the event had beneficiaries of the initiative (Kano and Jigawa-based farmers) share their experiences with participants.
“With this positive start, SRI is set to help Nigeria on the road to rice self-sufficiency as well as improving the environment for all,” the statement said.
The UK LINKS programme (Powering Economic Growth in Northern Nigeria) is a £12m UK government-funded programme designed to support development of a vibrant, inclusive, and diversified economy in three northern Nigeria States of Kano, Kaduna and Jigawa.
Its primary objective is to develop high-potential pro-poor value chains by supporting them to be productive, competitive, and attractive for investment at every level.
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The programme has had two main areas of activity: supporting the growth of Climate Smart Agriculture to improve yields and build resilience among farming communities against climate change, reducing the emission of GHG and encouraging investment.
In addition to SRI, LINKS is also working with 30,000 farmers in Jigawa state to pilot a regenerative farming project that will generate additional revenue from the sale of carbon credits, the statement said.
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