The Faculty of Agriculture, Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu- Alike, Ebonyi State has organized its 4th Food Security International conference with robust and far-reaching  discussions, and exchange and sharing of relevant knowledge and experiences on the implications of climate change on food security.

The conference with the theme: Climate Change and Food Value Chain Management/Development was held at the Needs Assessment Building mini auditorium of the Institution.

While declaring the conference open, the Vice- Chancellor of the University, Prof. Sunday Elom,  noted that the theme of the conference was necessitated by the global efforts meant to tackle climate change, which has been a challenge to the development of food value chain in Nigeria and many parts of the world.

He maintained that climate change disrupts food system with serious implication on food security, nutrients and health of the public.

The Vice-Chancellor who was represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Administration, Prof. Abel Ezeoha argued that building resilient food value chain requires actions that will reduce the vulnerability of the sector to climate change as well as mitigating carbon emissions from food value chain.

He therefore advised and encouraged the participants to take the conference seriously, adding that the conference afforded researchers the opportunity to come together and share knowledge to find a way forward for a climate-smart food value chain and proffer solutions to the challenges facing the Agricultural sector in Nigeria.

Rep. of VC, Prof. Abel Ezeoha speaking at the event

In her opening remarks, the Acting  Dean, Faculty of Agriculture, Dr. Christiana Igberi thanked the Vice- Chancellor  for his support and approval to host the conference.

She stated that the conference was timely because  climate change is a serious challenge to the development of food value chain in Nigeria,  which calls for  urgent and intensive actions.

She noted that the challenge of climate change can be addressed in a collaborative efforts, stressing  that the vision of the Faculty is to lead in all aspects of research, strategies and collaborative actions that will result in food security and the development of resilient food value chain in Nigeria and beyond with the expectancy of total reduction of the vulnerability of the Agricultural sector to climate change in an innovative way.

Dr. Igberi noted that the Faculty is partnering with the Cooperation for Holistic Agriculture and Innovation Nests in Sub-Sahara African (CHAIN) funded by the European Union through Erasmus+ scheme that is geared towards modernizing Agricultural Education in Nigeria and other African countries.

Ag. Dean, Faculty of Agriculture, Dr. Christiana  Igberi speaking at the conference

She further added that the aim of the conference was to crossbreed ideas and strategize to transform the food value chain towards powering sustainable development and climate change mitigation that could lead to food security.

Earlier in his welcome address, the Local Organizing Committee Chairman, Prof. Dr. Jonny Ogunji, said that climate change is a reality affecting every aspects of lives with its extreme and unpredictable weather pattern that shifts Agricultural zones and threatened food security, and disrupt supply chains and poses significant challenges to both producers and consumers around the globe.

He added that it’s possible to reduce emissions and become more resilient, which will require major social, economic and technological change, noting that the Faculty’s goal is to address the critical areas that include sustainable Agriculture, supply chain resilience and technological innovation that can help in finding a solution to food security in the country and beyond.

Chairman, LOC of the conference, Prof. Dr. Jonny Ogunji welcoming participants to the conference

Delivering the Keynote speech of the conference, Prof. Maduebibisi Ofo Iwe, Vice- Chancellor, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike, Abia State,  represented by Prof. Maria-Stella Njoku, said that climate change  is a long term change in the average weather patterns that have come to define the earth’s global climate.

He noted that change in climate and temperature caused by human factors and natural factors, has a severe impact on humans and nature, with negative impact on economic growth and sustainability.

Prof. Iwe further stated that climate is crucial to Nigeria’s Agribusiness value chain and if actions are not taken, the impact of the change in weather will continue to cause severe effects on livelihoods in Nigeria.

He also said that due to climate change, natural disasters were occurring more often and it ends up causing problems to the Agricultural sector that leads to financial losses.

While stressing on the need for stakeholders to change from traditional practices and accept new climate smart technologies in various ways of the value chain, Prof. Iwe recommended that food value chain should be more propagated with enlightenment on strategies to mitigate climate change impact.

Prof. Maria-Stella Njoku presenting the keynote speech on behalf of Prof. M. O Iwe at the conference

Also, speaking at the conference, Prof. Christopher C. Eze , Vice- Chancellor, University of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, Umuagwo, Imo State, who espoused  on the topic:  “Climate Change and Food Value Chains- The Role of Research, Policy and Sustainable Practice”, said that change in climate has been a lasting shift in weather patterns and temperatures.

He explained that it also involves human- induced modifications in weather patterns having local, national and global impact, stressing  that the impact originates from green- house gas emission, which  causes a global green- house effect which in turn creates global warming,  increases temperature and loss in the earth’s protective ozone layer.

He maintained that the current predictions and  catastrophes have been foreseen to magnify over the coming decades if sustainable change were not made in curbing green- house gas emission, which could lead to food shortages, famine, starvation and large scale death.

He said that a sustainable food value chain development is profitable and has a long term benefit and positive impact on the natural environment.

Speaking further, Prof. Eze stated that creating job and sources of incomes that will benefits the society and promote the well-being of rural dwellers as people push to derive their livelihood, and the  development of food value chains that will ensure healthier and cheaper food that will be delivered to markets in abundance for public consumption should be the target of all stakeholders.

He added that climate adaptation measures have to be promoted at the farm level for crop production activities, dry planting, early planting, use of drought tolerant seeds, crop diversification, water storage and natural barriers.

He also maintained that the development of green energy and the need to enforce it’s use as against the use of fossil fuel could be encouraged and promoted, adding tha public infrastructure such as  sustainable road linking production site to markets and development of value chains will assist in assuring food security.

Earlier before the conference, the Local Organizing Committee paid a courtesy call on the University Management.

Members of the University Management in a group photograph with LOC members  during their courtesy call