By Emmanuel Uffot
Solidaridad, an international civil society organization that has in the past five years worked to inculcate sustainable best practices to oil palm farmers and agricultural stakeholders through it’s related programs, has tasked those in Akwa Ibom and Cross River States the importance of promoting Green Revolution in their domain.
The agency gave the brief during a one day workshop for Multi- Stakeholders Platform ( MSPs) from the two states held in Uyo last week Friday.
According to the Resource person Kene Onigugbe who is the program manager of Solidaridad in Nigeria, there was a need for the agricultural stakeholders especially oil palm farmers captured in their programmes to place premium on Green Revolution as a panacea to global warming which instigate climate change.
He said it was expedient for them to take the message of Green Revolution which revolves around tree planting to their respective communities, local governments and states. Onigugbe said one of the best way of achieving this is for the MSPs and other stakeholders working in Government institutions and agencies to prompt government at the state and local level to key Green growth revolution into their policy framework. He therefore urged them to take advantage of the policy framework of the new governments like ARISE Agenda of Governor Umo Eno of Akwa Ibom and sell the message so it can be incorporated into government policy blueprint.
Solidaridad revealed that on their part, it conducted research on “Roadmap for sustainable Green Development of Akwa Ibom in 2016 in Akwa Ibom among the four focal states which also include Cross River, Enugu and Kogi yielded interesting findings which the stakeholders should use as their working tool.
One of the findings in Akwa Ibom and Cross River States was that there were efforts by both states to promote inclusive Green growth policies, but were not comprehensive enough.
Also gathered was that both states have large geographical landscape and the needed population as their strength to facilitate Green growth activities specifically tree planting.Again, both states have a great opportunity to promote green growth through partnerships with international agencies like Solidaridad, donor agencies and local partnership like National Park, Government Conservation Reservation Areas, research institutions, tertiary institutions and relevant Ministries like Agriculture, Environment, Forestry and Water Resources.
Solidaridad also listed some drawbacks militating against the green policy in the respective states. Some of them being being political interference, lack of will by government and knowledge gap among stakeholders on the benefits of tree planting and forest preservation.
As a way forward, Solidaridad offer the following suggestions. It urged the participants drawn from Cross River and Akwa Ibom States to liaise with both state and non- state actors to push Green growth policy to the front burner for its implementation. Solidaridad identified the state actors as Governors, House of Assembly, relevant Ministries as earlier stated, Agricultural Research institutions and Universities of Agriculture.
The agency also listed non- state actors the stakeholders should liaise with as, farmers association s, Agric focus Cooperative Societies, financial institutions, youths, civil society organisations and traditional institutions.
Solidaridad reiterated the importance of the participants which included top government functionaries from both to as a matter of urgency tasked Government to incorporate green Revolution into their agenda like ARISE Agenda blueprint of Akwa Ibom State.
Onigugbe also sensitised participants on the potentials of oil palm trees and Cocoa turning to vehicle of green economy in the two states and urged them to tap into it. According to the Solidaridad resource person, doing this will serve as the needed alternative to oil dependency.
The highpoint of the workshop was the constitution of the participants into Akwa Ibom and Cross River States discussion groups.
After deliberation, both came up with their road map which included taking the gospel of green growth to the rural areas, local governments and the state government. They also suggested that government should support women in the targeted local government areas by providing them with oil palm nurseries.
Also efforts should be geared towards insitutionalising tree planting in primary and secondary schools.
Priscilla, who led the Akwa Ibom discussion group suggested the need for Government to invest in oil mills in the state as an avenue to empower women and youths to go into the business.
Aside Onigugbe, another Solidaridad resource person who delivered lecture at the workshop was Ernest Ita.
Solidaridad West Africa through its Nigerian office has a subsisting five year programe on National Initiatives for Sustainable and Climate Smart Oil Palm Smallholders ( NISCOPS).
The first phase of the programe kicked off in 2019 to end in 2023.
NISCOPS Programme in Akwa Ibom State which is targeted on oil palm, in this phase is domesticated in six local governments. These are, Uyo, Etim Ekpo,Ibesikpo Asutan,Nsit Atai,Okobo and Ikot Ekpene.
The agency since it started its program on NISCOPS in Akwa Ibom is reputed to have assisted thousands of oil palm farmers by providing them with needed supports in oil palm nurseries, teaching them on best practices on oil palm business as well as going into partnership with the School of Agriculture in Akwa Ibom State University. This partnership we gathered has led to the establishment of oil palm nursery in the school as well as training of students.