Approximately 70% of the population are engaged in agriculture and it is therefore the mainstay of Nigerian economy nevertheless, agricultural productivity is declining rapidly. There are several challenges hampering the agricultural sector and the most pressing of all is climate change which poses threats to farmers’ productivity and income. Extreme Citizen Science in Agriculture (ECSAgri) is a unique project designed and implemented by Environmental and Economic Resource Centre (EERC) with the aim of promoting transition to Climate-smart Agriculture (CSA) through the use of combination of digital tools and methods towards enhancing agricultural development and food security in the country.
With respect to the project implementation, a stakeholders’ meeting was held on 10th June 2021 to share knowledge and harvest feedback on possible areas of improvement on the project outcomes. The meeting also served as a platform to attract partners towards building collaborations and wider networks of researchers working to combat the emerging issues on climate change. Several governmental agencies were present at the meeting and most expressed interests in partnering with EERC to develop joint effort in addressing the impact of climate change, especially among smallholder farmers. The interaction led to talks on possible partnership between EERC and the Institute of Food Security, Environmental Resources and Agricultural Research (IFSERAR). In light of this, a meeting was scheduled for Friday 18th of June, 2021 between parties to discuss ongoing project and possible areas of collaboration on EERC ECSAgri project. The meeting was held at the institute at Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta (FUNAAB). The EERC team (Program Manager – Dr. Ayoade Adetoye, Field Coordinator – Mr. James Michael, Visiting Scientist from University College London – Mr. Marcos Badia, and National Volunteers Miss. Adeleke Adedoyin) was received by the Deputy Director IFSERAR, Dr. J.A Oyedepo, who is also the Principal Investigator of Climate Information Service and Early Warning System (CIS&EWS) Project at the Institute.
The Deputy Director gave a brief note on the ongoing Project which started in July 2020. The project was designed to the incidence of Gross inaccurate seasonal climate predictions and lack of infrastructure Climate Information Service and Early Warning System to the agrarian communities in Nigeria which has limited farmers’ capabilities to meet the food demand of millions of people; hampering efforts to improve food security and reduce poverty. The project so far has selected and registered 1440 farmers, set up 6 demonstration plots alongside 6 Climate-smart villages across the 6 states (Ogun, Lagos, Oyo, Osun, Ondo and Ekiti) in South-west, Nigeria (For details see: www.cews.ng). The project also engaged the use of smartphones, with similar functionalities to the technology engaged in ECSAgri project and thus, suggests opportunities for possible collaborations, especially in the use of digital innovations to drive shift to Climate-smart Agriculture (CSA) among smallholder farmers in Nigeria. Further the discovery, the parties proposed to collaborate to develop scalable digital innovations with myriads of functionalities and information pathways that could enhance ease of CSA implementation in Nigeria. Dr. Oyedepo also emphasized the need for EERC participation in a proposed national climate research team tagged “Climate Research for Development (CR4D)” – a platform to bring together large community of stakeholders and researchers working together to secure funds from international donor agencies to support innovations on climate change in Africa. In addition, the institute, proposed an open data access for EERC research team to support the realization of the team’s effort on digital innovations as well as identifying possible bottlenecks and factors affecting climate Information services in Nigeria. The team later had a visit to FUNAAB ICT Centre where the mobile App on CEWSNG project was showcased. Suggestions were drawn from the EERC team to better improve on the ongoing project.