The Centre for Dryland Agriculture of Bayero University Kano (CDA-BUK) has commenced a three-day international conference on dry land agriculture and International Conference on Food for West Africa.
The conference, organized by the center in collaboration with the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), and the International Centre for Maize and Wheat Improvement (CIMMYT), aims to address basic issues affecting farming and food security issues in the affected regions.
Speaking at the opening session of the event, the Dean, Faculty of Earth and Environmental Science, Bayero University Kano (BUK), Professor Aliyu Barau, said restoration of ecosystem is one of the key measures to be taken before the current security and food challenge affecting Nigeria and other Sahel countries could be addressed.
Professor Barau, who is the Chairman of the conference, said developed countries have failed the Sahel region by continuously militarizing it and relegating its ecosystem resilience needs.
He said, “Even as we respond through knowledge platforms like this, I must say the developed world has failed the Sahel region. Why and how? There has been a steady increase of interest in the geo-politics, resources, and astro-politics than seen in supporting building ecological resilience in the region.
“Expensive external militarization and securitization through deployment of boots, spy satellites and unmanned sophisticated vehicles is in sharp contrast to the basic needs of restoring the ecology and climate adaptation in the Sahel. Ecological restoration is an opportunity for building peace. More than ever before, there is an urgent need for concerted efforts and funds to address ecological crises, hunger, food insecurity, extreme poverty and supporting the hard-to-reach populations of the region.
“Many parts of the Sahel belt are considered as ground zero for climate change. We are not alone, this is simply because drylands cover 45 percent of the earth’s land area and accommodate 40 percent of its human population, many of whom live in extreme poverty. This conference is itself a manifestation of human vulnerability,” he added.
Earlier, the Director of the Centre, Professor Jibrin Muhammad Jibrin, said the conference will discuss and inspire action in addressing crucial issues related to land degradation, agricultural productivity, food security, poverty, conflicts and human migration.
“We are happy to resume this biennial conference this year with the theme “Ecosystem Restoration and Natural Resource Management Exploring Opportunities for Food Security in the Drylands”. This theme aligns perfectly with the current UN Decade for Ecosystem Restoration. It underscores the need to restore our planet’s fragile ecosystems while, at the same time, addressing food security challenges,” Professor Jibrin added.
The director said during the conference, over 100 papers will be presented by various researchers and academicians.
Similarly, Sylvia Mkandawire, Africa Centres of Excellence (ACEs) Project Manager, expressed optimism that the network of participants attending the conference from various parts of the world will help proffer solution to the threats affecting food security in the region.
“At the end of the meeting, we expect a clear roadmap on what are the key research areas to be done within the next one year. But, we also expect some of the technologies that are already in the pipeline to be shared. Our expectations are high, particularly the uptake of these technologies and the varieties that will be shared in this workshop,” she explained.