The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) has said it will partner with Cross River and Ondo States to curb deforestation and agriculture-induced land degradation.
According to the food agency, the impact on agricultural activities was telling on the environment, hence the need to promote sustainable land use.
Country Representative of the FAO, Fred Kafeero revealed this at the inception workshop for the Project Preparation Grant (PPG) Phase of the Global Environment Facilities’ (GEF) Food Systems, Land Use and Restoration (FOLUR) impact programme.
The programme was tagged “Promoting Integrated Landscape Management and Sustainable Food Systems in the Niger Delta Region in Nigeria”.
Kafeero said the project was aimed at ensuring landscape restoration, seeing that deforestation has been on the rise, owing to agricultural activities.
He added that the initiative will exploit the intrinsic potentials of the Nigerian rain forest.
In his remarks, the FAO will fashion diverse ways to cultivate commodities like oil palm, cocoa and cassava, sustainably.
“The geographical focus of this proposed project lies in a landscape area where over 50 percent of the remaining tropical rain forest are domiciled – that is. Cross-River and Ondo states.
“Yet deforestation is at 3.7 percent rate in Nigeria predominantly due to the impact of agricultural activities; causing environmental degradation such as deforestation, declining soil fertility, biodiversity loss and reduction of other ecosystem services.
“The project will therefore take into consideration the inherent potential of the Nigerian rain forest (classified amongst the biodiversity hotspots in the world), and the country’s need for cultivation of diverse agricultural commodities, like oil palm, cocoa and cassava in a sustainable manner”.
On his part, the Minister of Environment, Dr. Mohammad Mamhood Abubakar stated that the initiative would reposition our environment for the sustainability of human existence.
Abubakar was represented by the Director of PRS/GEF Operational Focal Point, Ministry of Environment, Dr. Bolatito Obisesan.
The minister noted that the project would restore degraded land resources through food production.
“The focus on cocoa and palm oil in Cross River and the Ondo States is occasioned by the observed increase in demand for oil palm and cocoa which has resulted in major environmental degradations in these states.
“The programme is expected to focus on eliminating the risk of further expansion of farmlands into natural high biodiversity habitats and forests, erosion of genetic diversity,” she said.