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September 2022

In this report, Arinze Chijioke takes a look at how skyrocketing prices of cooking Gas is increasing the dependence on firewood, leading to deforestation.

This January, Chinasa Sunday wheeled logs of wood into her family compound in Isiagu, one of the communities in Enugu State. As soon as she got home and unpacked the wood, she called a young man who would always help her break them into smaller sizes to make it easier for her to prepare meals.

Weeks earlier, she had gone to farmland, just behind her family house, where she cut down tree branches, brought them home and packed them on a spot close to the kitchen.

On days when she cannot go in search of firewood, she buys from those who sell.

“I don’t want to run out of firewood,” she said. “When it begins to go down, I quickly find where to fetch more”.

Logs of wood at Helen Onu’s compound

Sunday and her family are just one out of millions of Nigerians who have returned to the use of fuelwood for domestic cooking following the consistent increase in cooking gas prices, a development which is increasing the deforestation rate linked to erosion, drought, flooding and desertification.

What NBS data says

Available data from the National Bureau of Statistics shows that the average retail price for refilling a 5kg Cylinder of Cooking Gas increased by 4.25% on a month-on-month basis from N4,218.38 recorded in June 2022 to N4,397.68 in July 2022. On a year-on-year basis, the price rose by 105.35% from N2,141.59 in July 2021.

On state profile analysis, Adamawa recorded the highest average price for refilling a 5kg Cylinder of Cooking Gas with N4,966.67, followed by Plateau with N4,650.00, followed by Kwara and Gombe with N4,625.00 each. On the other hand, Kano recorded the lowest price with N3,981.25, followed by Yobe and Bauchi with N4,000.00 and N4,071.03 respectively.

The NBC data also shows that the average retail price for refilling a 12.5kg Cylinder of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (Cooking Gas) increased by 3.56% on a month-on-month basis from N9,485.91 in June 2022 to N9,824.07 in July 2022. On a year-on-year basis, this rose by 122.15% from N4,422.32 in July 2021.

On state profile analysis, Ebonyi recorded the highest average retail price for the refilling of a 12.5kg Cylinder of Cooking Gas with N11,212.50, followed by Delta with N10,926.92 and Ekiti with N10,883.67.  Conversely, the lowest average price was recorded in Katsina at N8,355.71, followed by Yobe and Kano with N8,383.31 and N8,614.29 respectively.

Before the increases, Sunday was alternating between gas and fuelwood. But now, she only brings out her gas cylinder when she feels a need to clean up, after which she takes it back into her room where it has been for the past year.

“I was not buying much when the price was low,” she said. “Now that it has gone up, I don’t know why I should buy it when I can easily get firewood and cook whatever meal I want”.

Gas cylinder

She knows too well about the health implications of cooking with firewood. But she cannot stop depending on it.

Firewood and increasing deforestation 

The use of open fires and solid fuels for cooking remains one of the world’s most pressing health and environmental problems, directly impacting close to half the world’s population and causing nearly four million premature deaths each year, according to data from the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, a public-private partnership that seeks to promote clean and efficient household cooking solutions.

A 2014 study on domestic energy usage patterns of households in selected urban and rural communities of Enugu State also estimates that Nigeria consumes over 50 million metric tons of firewood annually, a rate which exceeds afforestation efforts.

Logs of wood loaded into a truck in Enugu

This is even as Revised deforestation figures from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) show that Nigeria had the world’s highest deforestation rate of primary forests in 2005.

Between 2000 and 2005, Nigeria lost as much as 55.7 per cent of its primary forests — defined as forests with no visible signs of past or present human activities, with the collection of fuelwoods cited as one of the leading causes of a forest clearing in the West African country.

In Isiagu, Sunday’s community, fuelwood has become a serious business for many families. While some of them convert tree trunks into charcoal, others break them into smaller sizes which are arranged and sold for N500 and 1,000, depending on the size. A paint bucket of charcoal goes for at least N200.

Health implications

Data from the United Nations on climate change shows that the smoke from cooking fires accounts for eight deaths every minute globally, impacting mostly women and children.

In Nigeria- and other developing countries- health problems arising from smoke inhalation, including respiratory infections, eye damage, heart and lung disease, and lung cancer, have been discovered to be responsible for many premature and preventable deaths annually.

Reports by the World Health Organization and the International Centre for Energy, Environment and Development (ICEED), estimate that as many as  95,000 Nigerians die annually as a result of smoke inhaled while cooking with firewood.

Smoke inhaled while cooking with firewood has also been proven to be the fourth leading cause of death in the world after heart and lung disease, and respiratory infection, with women and children under five worst hit. The WHO report shows that if a woman inhales smoke while cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner, it is equivalent to smoking between three and 20 packets of cigarettes a day.

Dr Nnaji Chibueze of the Centre for Energy Research and Development at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka says that biomass fuel use has been found to be associated with cataracts, low birth weight in babies of exposed expectant mothers and women who trek up to 7-9 kilometres to source for plenty of firewood, thereby increasing their stress levels in doing other house chores.

Dependence on imported gas reason for steady rise

Despite sitting on a huge resource base of gas, currently hovering around 206 trillion standard cubic feet, Nigeria depends on the US and other African countries such as Algeria and Equatorial Guinea for the importation of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG).

The rate keeps soaring because it is determined by the fluctuations in the dollar to naira rate. This means that the more the naira is devalued, the higher the prices will be.

A tipper conveys logs of wood in a community in Enugu

In September 2021, Executive Secretary, Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), Abdulkadir Saidu, disclosed in a report that 85, 264.803 metric tonnes of cooking gas were supplied across the country in August 2021.

Of this volume, as much as 47,224.346 MT was imported while about 38,040.457 MT was sourced locally. This means that 55.39 per cent of the LPG consumed in the country was imported, leaving 44.61 per cent for local producers.

The report further showed that 21,606.301 MT was imported from the USA, while 13,044.266 was imported from Algeria and 12,573.779 MT was brought into the country from Equatorial Guinea.

While deficits in terms of infrastructure have kept production at a low level, economic indexes, especially high inflation, naira devaluation and unsteady exchange rate continue to send the prices of cooking above the reach of the poor who live on less than one dollar a day.

Like the PPPRA, the Nigerian Association of Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers (NALPGAM), in October 2021, attributed the rise in the price of LPG to inadequate supply of the product into the domestic market and the Federal Government’s re-imposition of Value Added Tax (VAT) on imported LPG.

NALPGAM’s Executive Secretary, Bassey Essien, in an interview in Lagos, said that the supply of LPG had fallen below the demand, adding that the current consumption level is over 1,000,000 metric tons, but that the quantity available locally is in the range of 450,000M

“The first issue to address is how we can ensure there is constant availability of cooking gas in the country,” Essien said.  “The cumulative domestic supply accounted for 40 per cent while the balance 60 per cent was imported”.

He also noted that the proposed reintroduction of VAT at 7.5 per cent and customs duties applicable, which are to be applied retrospectively, would worsen the price.

Nigeria’s increasing gas reserves: Where’s the impact?

At the Nigeria International Petroleum Summit which was held In June 2021 in Abuja, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) said that the Proven gas deposits in Nigeria have moved up 206.53 trillion cubic feet.

Director of DPR, Auwalu Sarki disclosed that indigenous oil and gas companies are now contributing as much as 33 per cent to the nation’s crude oil reserves and about 30 per cent of gas reserves.

In Isiagu, a log of wood goes for between N500 and N1000

While the company’s contribution to the reserves was less than 10 million barrels in 2005, it has grown significantly to about 62 million barrels in 2020.

Speaking on the gas reserves, Auwalu attributed the growth to recent efforts being made on gas exploration in the country, especially the “Decade of Gas Initiative’.

The Nigerian government had in 2020, put Nigeria’s total gas reserves at 203.16 trillion cubic feet (TCF), representing a marginal increase of 1.16tcf or 0.57 per cent from the 202tcf recorded in 2019. The recent increase implies growth of over 3 trillion.

“Nigeria attained the target of 200tcf of natural gas reserves by the Reserve Declaration as of Jan.1, 2019, before the 2020 target,”. “Thereafter, the government set a target to attain a Reserve Position of 2020tcf by 2030,” Auwalu said.

He noted that independent companies are driving value addition to gas, adding that the acquisition of divested assets, as well as accelerated appraisal and development efforts, are other driving factors.

To him, the country is already gaining from the deliberate national efforts to boost indigenous participation in the sector.

The question, however, remains what the impact on the average consumer is. As many Nigerians have argued, the reserves must translate to more availability at affordable prices.

Like Sunday, Others do not care about health implications

Before the price of cooking gas went up, Helen Onu was using fuelwood to prepare meals. Although the heat coming out from her three-stoned open cooking fire usually leaves her wheezing badly from firewood smoke, Onu does not care.

She has a gas cylinder she fills from time to time. But after she heard that the price of gas had increased, she decided to completely depend on fuelwood for her daily cooking.

She knows too well about the many health implications inherent in cooking with fuelwood. But she cannot stop using it for her cooking.

Logs of wood arranged for sell in Enugu

To deal with the stress of having to trek long distances in search of fuelwood, however, she gets in touch with motorcycle owners and commercial bus drivers who help her buy in large quantities and bring them to her house.

Now she has a location close to her kitchen where she packs her logs of wood covered with sacks to prevent rain from beating them.

“When I buy it in large quantity, it takes months before it finishes”, she said, pointing in the direction where she arranges her fuelwood. “I hardly run out of it”.

Increasing global warming and the UN warning

Beyond its health implications, when fossil fuels are burned for energy, they release huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the air, thereby intensifying the greenhouse effect.   According to 2013 figures from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, deforestation contributes up to 10% of the carbon dioxide emissions caused by human activity.

The United Nations on Tuesday, October 19, 2021, warned that more than 100 million “extremely poor” people across Africa were threatened by accelerating climate change that could also melt away the continent’s few glaciers within two decades.

In the report, it was estimated that “by 2030, up to 118 million extremely poor people will be exposed to drought, floods and extreme heat in Africa, if adequate response measures are not put in place”

Commissioner for rural economy and agriculture at the African Union Commission, Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko, said that in sub-Saharan Africa, climate change could further lower gross domestic product by up to 3 per cent by 2050.

“Not only are physical conditions getting worse, but also the number of people being affected is increasing,” she said in the report’s foreword.

Nigerian government pledges reduction of LPG price

In January 2022, the Nigerian government announced that it was ramping up measures to ensure a drastic reduction in the cost of cooking gas.

General Manager, external relations and sustainable development for the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG), Andy Odeh, in a statement said the company would supply 100 per cent of its liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) to the Nigerian market.

Logs of woods in a community in Enugu

Odeh was quoted as saying that the NLNG had developed a scheme to sustainably supply propane for usage in cooking gas blending as well as in Agro Allied, Autogas, power and petrochemical sectors of the Nigerian economy.

Chibueze says that the government must improve access to cheaper alternative energy sources for cooking if the challenge of over-dependence on fuelwood must be addressed.

“Availability of woodlots and access to alternative, affordable, renewable energy systems would reduce the pressure on the forests and the amount of time and efforts women devote to obtaining fuel wood,” he said.

Countries commit to reversing deforestation

At the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow, more than 100 countries pledged to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by the end of 2030. A joint statement backed by the leaders of countries including Brazil, Russia, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which collectively account for 85 per cent of the world’s forests, shows that the pledge is underpinned by $19bn in public and private funds to invest in protecting and restoring forests.

According to a statement from the British prime minister’s office on behalf of the leaders, the Declaration on Forest and Land Use are expected to cover forests totalling more than 33 million square kilometres (13 million square miles).

While calling it an unprecedented agreement, Boris Johnson, who was the PM at the time said “We will have a chance to end humanity’s long history as nature’s conqueror, and instead become its custodian”.

As rousing and assuring as this may be, for many Nigerians, however, far-reaching concrete action will be needed to get them on board.



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In this report, Arinze Chijioke tells the story of how communities in Rivers and Bayelsa States are benefitting from the federal government’s solar power projects under the Nigerian electrification programme.

Prior to 2020, residents of Oloibiri, one of the communities in Ogbia local government area of Bayelsa State – where oil was first discovered- depended on a generator that was donated by an illustrious son of the community for power.

While the donation brought relief to them after they had spent over 15 years without any form of power, their joy was incomplete, because the men paid N2000 and the women N500 monthly for diesel and they hardly had enough supply. It only lasted for 12 hours, from 6 pm to 6 am.

Renewvia energy solar system in Oloibiri
Renewvia energy solar system in Oloibiri

“We felt It was a burden to us because even after donating, we only enjoy power at night to conserve diesel,” Asa Asa a member of the community said.

The only time the generator works all day and night is whenever there is a wedding or burial ceremony which often lasted for one week. Those celebrating had to provide enough diesel.

Soon, community members stopped contributing diesel and the generator was abandoned. The community was engulfed in perpetual darkness, except for families who had their personal generators.

In 2020 however, the narrative changed after a solar hybrid mini-grids with a capacity of 67.32KW was installed in the community by Renewvia  Energy Corporation under the Nigerian electrification project, (NEP).

The goal was to provide clean, safe, and affordable electricity to residents of the community who had been unconnected to the national electricity grid as well as Increase business productivity by replacing generators, lanterns and candles with reliable electricity.

Renewvia energy’ Country Manager for West Africa, Chris Ebiware said that the company did a feasibility study of 25 communities in 4 states, including Bayelsa in 2016.

He noted that it was during the site identification that the company came across Oloibiri and discovered that the community had been without reliable power since its inception.

“So, with cooperation from the community we built our first mini-grid here,” he said. “Construction started in 2019 and the system was turned on in February of 2020,” he said, adding that the company also did the test run in the same year”.

The Nigerian electrification project (NEP)

In 2018, the federal government designed a scheme known as the Nigerian electrification project- to increase access to electricity, through renewable power sources, for households, public educational institutions and businesses that are not connected to the national electricity grid.

To support the implementation of the NEP, the Nigerian government, through the Rural Electrification Agency, REA- the implementing agency, secured financing from both the World Bank ($350m) and the African Development Bank ($200m).

Among the programmes implemented under the NEP is the Solar Hybrid Mini Grids Component which aims to support the development of private sector mini-grids in unserved areas across Nigeria with a target to electrify 300,000 households and 30,000 local enterprises.

Under the Solar Hybrid Mini Grids Component,  there was the Performance-Based Grant (PBG) sub-component which had a total available fund of US$48 million disbursed to qualified mini-grid developers/firms on a first come first served basis, up until the available funds are exhausted.

Oloibiri was one of the communities that benefitted from the PBG which was expected to connect an estimated 364 households while developing the infrastructure, creating jobs in both the construction phase and permanent jobs.

According to REA, Renewvia Energy Corporation, like other companies handling the various components went through the four-phase of the application and approval processes of the PBG programme, including the qualification stage, site-specific technical application stage, grant agreement signing and the verification and disbursement. 

Two years down the line, residents of Oloibiri cannot have enough of the solar system. The supply is 24 hours. The company had provided metres for households who have to always recharge to get power.

From welding to dry cleaning and other businesses, the project has made Oloibiri a beehive of activities. Nobody talks about the community generator anymore. Asa had to sell his personal generator because he did not have a need for it anymore. Every month, he spends between N2000 and N3000 on recharging his metre.

“I have been enjoying the light ever since it came,” Asa said. “I wish the government can extend the same project to other communities in order to tackle the challenge of poor electricity supply”.

The solar system particularly excites Anthonia Deezua who owns a provision store in the community where she sells cold beverages. Now, she makes more profits than when she used her generator.

“Every day, workers and students come to ask me to help them look for accommodation and that means more people patronising my business,” said Deezua. “Formally, I was using a generator for business. But the noise was unbearable, and I did not always have it on because fuel was expensive”.

While business owners such as Deezua spend as much as N4000 monthly, others recharge their metres with as little as N300 and N500 which often lasts between three days and one week.

The Oloibiri site manager for Renewvia Energy, Azibasamari Amadi said that the number of days each subscription lasts depends on the consumption levels of the households.

He explained that after the project was commissioned, the company organised sensitisation workshops for community members on how to conserve energy such as switching off their electrical appliances, including fridges, fans, air conditioners and bulbs when they don’t have a need for them.

On how users pay, he said that the company entered a partnership with Paga, a mobile payment company which enables people to digitally send and receive money.

“Paga has an application that allows users to pay for power by selecting the company name and inputting their metre number and the amount they want to subscribe after which they send and have light “he explained.

Challenges within…

Although the solar system in Oloibiri has been effective, Amadi said that electricity theft and low rate of subscription by some community members disrupt their services. He explained that on several occasions, community members who do not want to pay have tried to bypass the system.

“Our system is smart enough that whenever it notices such moves, it shut down,”Amadi said. “Also, when there is a line bridge or a burnt metre, the system shuts down instead of allowing things to develop a fault,”

He explained that whenever such situations arise, he quickly informs other members of his team and together, they try to find out what the problem is, adding that they also inform members of the community, via WhatsApp whenever they want to embark on maintenance.

Whenever the sun does not produce much energy to power the systems, he switches over to their generator which serves as a backup system.  He however noted that recently, they had a delay in the delivery of diesel, because of the poor returns and hike in the price of diesel and because of that, there were disruptions at night.

“Sometimes, our expenditure is higher than what comes in because there are those who cannot afford to always subscribe and even when they do, it’s poor,” he explained. “Sometimes, when we have the money, diesel is not readily available for us to buy,”

Renewvia energy solar system in Akipelai
A mini-grid solar system in Akipelai

In Akipelai, breach of agreement scuttle solar system

With the PBG, Renewvia Energy Corporation also installed a solar system in Akipelai, another community in Ogbia LG.  Like the project in Olobiri, that of Akipelai which also had a capacity of 67.32KW provided sustainable power to the people.

But it did not last long after Renewvia shut down its operation in December 2021, following the decision by members of the community to renege on an agreement they had with the company at the inception of the project.

Chairman of Akipelai Community Development Committee, Davidson Omonkori said that the company had an agreement with the community to provide it with 24 hours power supply for 20 years. The said agreement was okayed by the National Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC.

Omonkori explained that households subscribed to the system after it was installed but stopped after the Nigerian Agip Oil Company started supplying diesel to enable the community to power its generator.

Agip had in 2014, donated a generator to Akipelai which is one of its host communities. However, its supply of diesel was inconsistent. Sometimes, community members had to wait for three months before the 500KVA generator comes on and that led to the wide acceptance of the solar system.

“But recently, they started supplying diesel frequently and our people stopped subscribing to the solar system,” Omonkori said.

Omokori noted that leaders of the community had suggested to Renewvia energy that they should have the generator at night-since they cannot reject the free diesel- while the solar system runs during the day, but the company said it was not part of their agreement.

“When they came, we offered to pay 400,000 because we felt it was going to be a post-paid system where we will pay at the end of the month, but they said it is prepaid and you pay as you use”.

He explained that they had also met with Agip and suggested that rather than provide diesel to power the generator which only lasts for 12 hours daily, they should pay directly to Renewvia Energy so they can provide 24 hours power supply to the community. But the company was yet to respond.

Akipelai site manager for Renewvia Energy, Kingsley Nestor, said that the company was beginning to run at a loss, hence the decision to shut down the operation. He said that the company needs funds to pay staff salaries and maintain the system for it to be sustainable.

While Omokori said that leaders of the community had agreed to allow Agip to pay for the system, Nestor alleged that some of them have severally refused to accept the suggestion because they sell some litres out of the over 14,000 litres they get monthly and keep the money.

Nigeria and commitment to energy transition

At the Climate Change Conference (COP 26) in Glasgow, Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari pledged that the country will cut its carbon emissions and reach net zero by 2060.

While the target lags 10 years behind the recommended deadline which the UN along with many climate scientists would like to achieve to stop global warming, Nigeria’s commitment to energy transition is clearly visible within the government’s project, which aims to electrify 5 million households and 25 million people with solar energy.

Chief Executive Officer, Renewvia, Trey Jarrad, said that the impact of the solar projects extends beyond providing access to cleaner, reliable, and affordable energy, to helping Nigeria actualise her global energy transition mandate.

Like Nigeria, other countries are looking to invest in renewable energy which could supply four-fifths of the world’s electricity by 2050, massively cutting carbon emissions and helping to mitigate climate change.

In Egbeke, residents can finally heave a sigh of relief

After Green Village Electricity implemented a 6.8kw PV solar-based pilot project which according to the company was aimed at field testing the technical and commercial viability of adopting renewable energy for off-grid rural electrification in Egbeke, one of the communities in Rivers State in 2012, it was not serving the entire five villages that together make up the community, the people stated.

Community members could not use it to pump water, power their fridges or use electric iron. It only worked during the day and powered streetlights. At night, it always went off.

Among the villages that were completely cut off from power was Umuode which owned the land where the solar power was installed. Umuagwu, the village whose people were said to have had first contact with the company decided who to give light and who not to give. There were no metres.

“Because of that, many of us did not have access to power, except those who wanted to do the illegal connection,” Chucks Nkwo, a leader in Umuode told The ICIR, “Irked by the perceived marginalisation, our people protested and shut down the site”.

Six years later, in 2018, the company came back, after it received the PBG under the FG’s NEP and upgraded the project, moving it from the site where it was before to the community’s market square where there is enough land to accommodate the upgrading. It provided Egbeke with a 55KW minigrid.

Now, residents in the five villages, including UmuagwuUmuode, Umuayim, Umuokwu and Umuoko have a power supply that they use for all kinds of businesses. Households were provided with metres which they always recharged.

Egbeke solar system
Egbeke solar system

Allegations of corruption

Years after the solar project was upgraded, residents of Egbeke have not had any challenge with the usage apart from allegations that Egbeke site manager for Green Village Electricity, Amadi Evans has not been transparent in his duties.

According to Nkwo, Evans who handles the subscription for customers always gives different megawatts for the same amount. He alleged that one of the times he recharged N3000, he got 330 megawatts instead of the usual 440.

“After it finished, I complained to him and the next time, he made it 440 megawatts,” Nkwo said, adding that sometimes, it appears the power they get is not commensurate with the amount we pay.

He regretted that while other communities who have benefitted from solar systems pay as little as N200, Umuode and other communities in Egbeke pay a minimum of N1000.

“We have complained to the site manager who said he has told the company, but nothing has been done, “We bear it because we get constant supply”.

When confronted with the allegations, Evans confirmed that the tariff stopped at N1000, adding that community members have complained about the rate which they described as outrageous.

While denying that he had anything to do with the rate, he said complained to the company management who said they will have to discuss with the NERC and other stakeholders involved before taking any decision on cost reduction.

“They promised that they will look into the complaints with time, “he said, adding that the company also felt it was best to keep the money at N1000 so that people don’t always complain that their power ends quickly”.

While community members complain about the cost of power in Egbeke, they say it is better than any other power source.  Ikechi Jim who owns a provision store said that although he spends N6000 every week, he prefers the solar system because it is always available except when the money finishes and you must recharge again.

“If you are using a generator, and It gets spoilt, you have to go and repair and that affects your business, “he said. “Sometimes, those who are connected to the power grid go for weeks and months without supply,”.

Where the problem often lies, an expert’s point of view

While the solar projects are providing sustainable energy in benefitting communities, Chief Operating Officer at Manamuz Electric limited, a Nigerian Electrical and Renewable energy company, Chigozie Enemoh, said that some mini-grid projects do not last beyond 1 year after commissioning because companies often fail to do a load and energy analysis of communities and other areas before they deploy solar systems.

He explained that the company must try to understand the load pattern and do an extensive load analysis as well as a futuristic master plan to know what is expected in terms of load demand in the next two or more years.

“The problem we always have is that sometimes when you deploy, you find out that the energy demands outweigh the system that was deployed, “he said. “Once people see light, they tend to buy more appliances, which increases the energy demand and creates problems for the system”.

Additionally, he said that there is usually the challenge of lack of maintenance of solar panels which have the tendency of attracting dust- because they are open-air which reduces their efficiency and output over time.

He explained that some mini-grid developers are only concerned about deploying and commissioning of solar power projects in benefitting communities without embarking on operation and maintenance which is very key to the sustenance of any project.

“After deploying and commissioning, the next stage is the O and M which should last for as long as the project lasts, “he said. “Depending on the capacity of the project, you could schedule maintenance every four or six months”.

He said that mini-grid contracts have operation and maintenance costs and that is where companies are expected to train community members who will maintain the project while they are away and always report back when issues they cannot handle arise.

Story was originally published by the ICIR.

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In keeping with the mission of Eco-Nai+ to report on the impact of climate change on the environment and its implications for livelihood and sustenance, we embarked on a field project to a farm in Nigeria where the impact is a growing concern.

In this report, Ijeoma Ilekanachi shares insightful encounters with farmers who bared their minds on the marked changes the farm has seen owing to climate change impact.  The Eco-Nai+ team embarked on a field tour of Agbeloba farms located in Abeokuta of Ogun State to examine the effects of climate change on agriculture.

A love of farming drawn from heritage, challenged by change 

For Peter Olorunsheyi who grew up in a family of farmers, the idea of cultivating the soil for food is bliss. With the rising sun illuminating the morning sky, he makes his way to the farmland to check on the crops and workers. As a head farmer of Agbeloba farms, he knows the layout of the farm like the back of his palm, and while showing the reporter around, he moves with immense skill.

The 71-year-old regards this passion as a requirement for growth in agriculture. It has long been known that farming requires hard work, grit and commitment for good yield. However, one major setback is that sometimes the maximum effort put in can be hindered by environmental factors like the weather. He describes it as a shift in the normal working of things.

He put it plainly, “All those years ago, it was easy to predict when the rain would fall on crops which would help determine planting time and harvest time. However, now it’s harder to tell; it’s either we have too much rain or not enough rain”.

Agbeloba: A glide through nature’s bosom

The journey to this grassland involved entering the heart of Abeokuta in Ogun state. A small village and narrow bush path greeted the team as they made their way into the entrance of the farm which is marked by a well-constructed fence with the Agbeloba brand. Although the drive there seemed unnerving at first, with narrow bush paths, branches tapping the windows and rustling trees, the feeling later settled with that of marvel at the expanse of land.

Agbeloba derives its name from a Yoruba saying that means “the farmer is king”. The vast 33-acre farmland is home to at least ten crops and different livestock. It started with seven acres and went on to expand, now with customized boundary points to mark ownership. According to Mr Peter, Agbeloba farms were established in 2020, not only with the hope of improving food production but to integrate digital technology into agriculture.

According to the Chief of Operations for, Kolade Yemisi, the platform aims to build a community of agropreneurs who support smallholder farmers to increase crop yield. The business boasts amazing return rates and near-perfect non-default on payments.

Pepper bushes at Agbeloba farm

However, the cost of building such an innovative venture in Nigeria keeps rising, a dampener in this otherwise blissful story of disrupting agriculture. Added to the fact that the dwindling economy of Nigeria is heightening the cost of production, climate change also poses a severe threat to the regular output of farm produce for sale. Some studies have shown that issues like rising temperatures, drought, flooding and more frequent extreme weather events can ultimately hinder food and livestock production.

Feeling the bite of extreme weather conditions 

Speaking on the farm’s experiences with climate change, Mr Peter noted that the increase in temperature and scorching sun are some of the weather conditions that gravely affect the crops. Maize cobs are smaller in size, yams are not as big and other crops take later times to sprout.

With a disappointed nod, Mr Peter points to a yam plant that fell to the ground, stake and all. He explained that the yam is now a very difficult crop to cultivate with the yam farm accounting for only 2 acres on the whole farm.

“Yam is one of the most difficult crops to cultivate. Unlike other crops where you clear, heap and plant, yam requires planting when there’s no rain and mulching (covering the heaps with leaves to prevent decay) to protect it from the scorching sun”

“At their emergence level, you have to lead them to the stake you want them to climb. You find out that some leave the stake you put and start growing elsewhere. This is why monitoring the crops is necessary”

“Although the local programme of planting yam is okay. You are planting maybe around November, or December so that by August, or September you can make your first harvest which is called new yam. That same yam you harvested in August, we reproduce seed again in December. However, when there’s no balance in weather conditions, we can’t get good results.”

Looking on the bright side, he stated that the irrigation systems set on the farm have improved the growth of the yams. Another milestone achieved is that the farm no longer buys the yam seedlings but now produces seedlings even for sale.

Threshed Corn left in the sun to dry

According to the Working Group II Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), crop yield losses even after adaptations are projected to rise rapidly above 2°C global warmings. For food production, climate change impacts include up to a 5.8% mean reduction in maize productivity due to increased temperatures in Sub-Saharan Africa.

o his farmMr Peter corroborated this by saying, “I still want to argue that we cannot compare irrigation with rainfall. The rain will not only water the soil but regulate the temperature of the leaves.”

Pointing to the plantain plantation, Mr Peter revealed them to be giant size and noted that the mode of cultivation involves transplanting an already nursed sucker. This particular plantation is the most viable one on the whole farm with one tree sprouting as many as four different suckers.

“When you transplant the sucker during the rainy season, by the next rainy season between nine months to one year, they should start fruiting”, he said. Although the other plantations such as the cashew and banana looked very young at the time of the visit, he pointed out that they were doing well even though the rains stopped early last year.

Beaming with pride, the head farmer also showed the visitors the new pepper farm planted in early 2022. Both unripe and ripe pepper plants were already showing good signs of development. He recounted an event in a neighbour’s pepper farm which started way before Agbeloba’s but was later destroyed by the sun.

“If you visit that farm now, it has become a wasteland”, he said.

Plantain and Cassava trees inside Agbeloba farm

Fruits and vegetables also known as wild-harvested food plants are vulnerable to current and future climate changes. At Agbeloba, some of the fruits are not for commercial purposes and are mostly inherited from the land. One species of rare tangerine, the tangelo— a hybrid citrus fruit made by crossing a tangerine with a grapefruit— was seen. The snake tomato and walnut is also known as Àsálà in Yoruba were other food plants seen to be growing on the farm.

Rotimi Wilhelm, another trained farmer revealed that the increased temperature was a major factor impacting livestock production. The poultry birds usually suffer from heat stress which in turn affects egg production.

“Usually one chicken can produce one egg a day and we can realise four crates and a half. Even with the right feed, sometimes not all of them lay eggs”, he explained.  “We are hoping to expand and get more males”, Mr Peter added

An unmistakable stench after further trekking revealed that we had reached the piggery; the three females and one male pig strutting in their pens were bought in May. There were more pens than pigs because the animals give birth in the litter. Their dung is deposited in a hole in the soil for organic fertilizer.

Econai+ team with Agbeloba farmers.

“We erected tanks for the pigs for them to drink and also for their baths as a means to combat heat”, we were told.

For the rabbit rearing, Mr Peter narrated that most of these rabbits died due to their fragile nature and were moved out of their houses to somewhere closer to the workers for monitoring.

“We have some of them around the farmhouse to monitor them. Some months ago, we lost some. We are trying to see what went wrong”, he said.

The catfish numbered about 675 excluding the ones already smoked and dried for sale.

A new shift to climate change mitigation

A UN Climate change study states that for global temperatures to stabilise, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions will need to reach net zero as early as 2050. To achieve this, new renewable energy options and lifestyles must be adopted. For agriculture, farmers have to amend their practices and be prepared for weather changes.

When asked about the interventions used to salvage the climate situation, Mr Peter explained that the irrigation systems and solar panels for electricity were a few of the steps taken already. The solar panels were placed on the roof of the farmhouse.

“It powers our inverter and subsequently, the farm. We also have a three kilowatts generator with a fuel capacity of 25 litres. The 2000 litre tanks are used to take care of our fishes in the pond, for the poultry birds and the pigs”, he stated.

The farm is cleared regularly to enable better practices and to get rid of weeds. “Especially during the rainy season, you’ll see more weeds than crops on the farm, so you have to ensure that these weeds don’t kill the crops”, he said. To prevent ozone layer damage, the farmers try to avoid bush burning as a means to clear the farm of weeds. They have made it a point of duty to educate themselves on the worsening effects of climate change.

Poultry farm inside Agbeloba farms

With planting styles such as transplanting and mulching, the crops can stand a chance against unpredicted change. Crops like cocoa, oil palm and yams have a higher chance of survival. In the aspect of business, the farmers sell raw produce or process other types of food with crops. There’s a garri processing plant, fish smoking machine and corn sheller(removes corn kernels off the cob) for this purpose.

Nigeria has an estimated population of 206.14 million people (2020) with an annual population growth rate of 2.5%. Nigeria’s population is projected to reach 262.9 and 401.3 million people in 2030 and 2050, respectively. With more mouths to feed in the coming years, innovative farming practices are needed to ensure food security.

Rotimi believes that if nothing is done about the emissions and frequent weather changes, agriculture in the whole country will suffer. When asked if the farm will be willing to partner with Eco-Nai+, he was elated about the idea.

“Of course, not just us, other farms suffer from this climate situation. We would want to partner with a platform that helps us track climate change”, he said.

Yemisi equally affirms that partnering with a digital platform like Eco-Nai + to track and report the impact of climate change will foster agricultural growth and food security.

The team was led by Dare Adekoya, Eco-Nai+ Data Analyst, while the audio-visual coverage was done by Oluwatosin Oladimeji, the multimedia lead. 

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