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Winrock’s Ben Odoemena joins USAID panel on agriculture, food systems and climate change takeaways from COP27

Ben Odoemena, Winrock’s chief of party for the Feed the Future Agricultural Extension and Advisory Services (AEAS) activity in Nigeria, spoke about his project’s approach to supporting climate-smart agriculture as one of five panelists in the USAID Agrilinks webinar: What’s Next After the ‘Implementation’ COP? Catalyzing Action at the Intersection of Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Systems.

The December 1, 2022, virtual discussion was hosted by Agrilinks, Feed the Future and USAID to review the recent United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change goals and implementation activities to meet global climate change targets specifically in the agriculture and food systems sectors.

“The global climate crisis is also a food security crisis, a water crisis, and a malnutrition crisis,” states the introduction to the online panel. “In the last 60 years, climate change has reduced agricultural productivity growth by an average of 21% – and up to 40% in some regions – with impacts predicted to accelerate in coming decades.”

The session offered an overview of food security, nutrition and water issues highlighted at COP27, focused on the role of policymakers and offered examples from implementers working to mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis. Odoemena was joined by Ann Vaughan, USAID’s senior advisor for climate change; Emily Weeks, senior policy advisor in USAID’s Bureau for Resilience and Food Security; Anne Spahr, chief of party of USAID’s Climate Finance for Development Accelerator; and Claudia Ringler, deputy director of the Environment and Production Technology Division of the International Food Policy Research Institute. The panel was moderated by Caitlin Corner-Dollof, USAID’s senior policy advisor on climate and agriculture.

Odoemena spoke about climate-smart practices and market-oriented approaches supported by the AEAS activity in Nigeria that reduce carbon emissions and support climate resilience, in part by facilitating use of improved varieties of weather-resilient seeds in the cowpea, rice, maize and soy value chains, resulting in increased yields and profits. Promotion of integrated nutrient management systems that require soil testing, optimal use of fertilizers and increased use of bio-fertilizers has also had an impact through increased nitrogen efficiency, decreased contamination of surface and groundwater, and rising profit margins, Odoemena said. Increased support to farmers for expanded use of natural fertilizers has become increasingly important, as access to chemical-based fertilizers has dwindled – and prices have ballooned – due to supply chain issues caused by COVID, exacerbated by Russia’s war on Ukraine.  

Other climate-smart practices supported by the project, such as integrated pest management including bio-pest control solutions are also helping, as is expanded use of smart weather readers, which have enabled farmers to mitigate threats from both pests and floods and reduce losses, Odoemena said. Introduction of rice intensification practices, which reduce carbon emissions and enhance aeration, is also resulting in increased yields and margins.  

“What drives our intervention lies in sustainability,” Odoemena added. “Why we have successful approaches, we also try to institutionalize the process to ensure that climate-smart agriculture services will continue even after our intervention.”

Part of the project’s sustainability approach includes promoting climate-smart practices as business solutions that are essential to protect and grow profits as the climate changes. “We have observed that use of climate-smart practices has been able to increase product profit by more than 45% for small farmers,” Odoemena said. The project is also investing in climate financing and exploring weather index insurance to help farmers manage risks. Insurance is gaining traction as a risk-reduction instrument, Odoemena said, following devastating floods this year in Nigeria that have reportedly displaced more than a million people and damaged more than 100,000 hectares of croplands.

The FTF AEAS project is currently networking with 260 micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, and has already extended new practices to approximately 180,000 farmers, with plans to reach a total of 2 million before the project’s end.

Find the slide deck and transcript here.

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Feed the Future Nigeria Agriculture Extension and Advisory Services Activity

Technology offers the potential to achieve major change, and that is certainly true in Nigeria’s agriculture sector. Using a facilitative market systems approach for sustainability, this USAID-funded project takes a “farmer-first” approach to ensure on-farm results and achieve impact at scale. Winrock is partnering with micro, small and medium enterprises and key market actors within…