In a world where the need for sustainable agricultural practices is paramount, organizations like Solidaridad Nigeria are taking the lead in championing environmentally friendly approaches while simultaneously boosting productivity in the agricultural sector. Solidaridad Nigeria recently conducted a workshop aimed at encouraging oil palm smallholder farmers to embrace sustainable practices to safeguard the environment and enhance their yields. The workshop, organized for the Multi Stakeholders Platform (MSP) in Kogi state, sent a clear message to farmers about the importance of adopting best management practices in oil palm cultivation.
A Call for Sustainable Oil Palm Production
Kenechukwu Onukwube, the program manager for oil palm and country management lead at Solidaridad Nigeria, delivered a compelling call to action during the workshop in Lokoja. He emphasized the need for oil palm smallholder farmers to transition to sustainable oil palm production methods, highlighting the pivotal role these practices play in environmental protection and increased productivity.
Mr. Onukwube noted that Solidaridad Nigeria has developed a set of best management practices to educate oil palm smallholder farmers on various aspects of sustainable oil palm farming. These practices encompass guidance on the judicious use of fertilizers and the adoption of improved planting materials.
One of the key recommendations put forth by Solidaridad Nigeria is urging palm oil farmers to replace cut palm oil trees or, if possible, venture into expansive lands with shrubs to plant oil palm. This approach not only contributes to increased oil palm productivity but also aids in reclaiming and revitalizing the environment.
Additionally, the organization is actively discouraging improper fertilizer application, which has been a prevalent issue with far-reaching consequences for the ecosystem. Mr. Onukwube stressed the importance of farmers understanding the correct fertilizer application rate and timing to prevent detrimental impacts on the environment.
Furthermore, he cautioned against the detrimental practice of tree cutting and burning, highlighting the double calamity it poses. When trees are burned, they release more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which negatively affects the organic composition of the soil. These unsustainable practices, particularly among oil palm smallholder farmers, must be avoided in all farming activities to preserve the environment effectively.
The Role of Multi-Stakeholders Workshop
Solidaridad Nigeria’s stakeholders workshop serves as a critical component of their National Initiative for Climate-Smart Oil Palm Smallholders (NISCOPS) project, which has been actively implemented in Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Enugu, and Kogi states since 2019. The recent workshop in Kogi State aimed to bring together stakeholders from the oil palm sector to collaborate, brainstorm, plan, and develop sustainable management strategies for oil palm landscapes in the state.
The workshop’s participants comprised a diverse group of stakeholders, including farmers, community leaders, public officials, local civil society organizations (CSOs), community facilitators, and religious leaders. Their collective objective was to address the challenges faced in the oil palm sector and devise effective solutions to mitigate them.
Solidaridad Nigeria had previously conducted various studies in the oil palm sector, including scoping studies, gender vulnerability assessments, and life cycle studies. These studies revealed significant issues related to unsustainable farming practices and their detrimental effects on the environment. In response, the organization formed Multi Stakeholders Platforms at the community level where oil palm farming activities take place.
The need for such platforms became apparent due to the numerous sustainable, social, and environmental issues plaguing the oil palm production sector. Unsustainable farming practices were identified as a major contributor to climate change and negative environmental impacts, prompting the call for collective action.
A Path to Sustainable Agriculture
The efforts of organizations like Solidaridad Nigeria to promote sustainable oil palm farming are a testament to the growing awareness of the importance of environmentally responsible agriculture. By encouraging smallholder farmers to adopt best management practices, minimize environmental harm, and enhance productivity, Solidaridad Nigeria is contributing to the preservation of our environment while ensuring a brighter future for the agricultural sector in Nigeria. As the country seeks sustainable solutions to agricultural challenges, the lessons learned from initiatives like NISCOPS and the Multi Stakeholders Platform are invaluable in shaping a more sustainable and prosperous future for all.