If you took agricultural science in secondary school, your teacher must have told you that free range chicken farming was a very inefficient way of growing chickens (sure – true), and chickens grown that way would not feed many people. With that, one of the problems facing agriculture in Nigeria/Africa was noted: inefficient ways of growing crops and farm animals. Yes, because the chickens are small, and do take a lot of time to mature, the whole process was primitive and should be discarded, the teachers and the books would conclude.
Quickly, the teacher would introduce modern ways of farming chickens (yes, the agric chickens). Then, the teacher will take you into an excursion of how “science has advanced” to the point that we could have bigger chickens. The teacher possibly added: this agric chicken was big enough that you could not finish eating it alone unlike the local versions. Progress in agriculture noted!
Where am I going? The Nigerian delegates and the broad African delegates to COP28 should shine their eyes. Do not take those promises and pledges hook, line and sinker. Why? When I came to America, I realized that only the rich people can enjoy the organic and artificial hormone-free chickens we enjoyed in the village. Really? Whole Foods, known for the whole pay cheque, was selling those things and they were expensive – and only the rich could afford them!
People, the organic chicken in your village market is a premium product which only rich Americans afford, with the masses bamboozled to the “agric chicken” [the irony: you possibly liked the agric in the village because it was “foreign”]. That is why we must be nuanced on all climate policies because some of the things we’re doing in Africa are just fine. But because we were re-educated and confused, we lost what was actually helping the world, only to be asked to return back to those things via big lectures in places like Dubai, London and New York.
My summary: if African leaders take efforts to implement ordinances which have been perfected by generations of Africans, we can mitigate gully erosion, reduce pollution and save our environments. But today we discard them in the name of development, only to score own-goals.
In Ugwunta Ovim’s square, the Akpuru Achi tree there is the heart to protect the village from gully erosion, and on the path of the valley there, trees have been planted, not just to protect the city on a hill, but to slow the flow of water at the downstream, and in the process protech farmlands. The thoughtful process which the ancestors engineered the whole thing remains marvelous and everyone hopes it stays that way.
But not every part is lucky as people chop trees and abandon sites with no strategy to handle flows of water across Nigeria! You do not need COP28 to know that those things are mindless!
Let’s have a Sankofa moment across African states.
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This is how Claude responded to your post:
Overall, Ekekwe makes some reasonable points about being cautious of one-size-fits-all policies and solutions when it comes to climate issues and sustainability practices. Specifically regarding agriculture and food production, he…
— Suleiman Ibrahim Abubakar (@Suleimabaker) December 5, 2023
Comment 1: This is how Claude responded to your post:
Overall, Ekekwe makes some reasonable points about being cautious of one-size-fits-all policies and solutions when it comes to climate issues and sustainability practices. Specifically regarding agriculture and food production, he highlights how certain traditional, small-scale farming techniques in Africa can actually be more sustainable and environmentally-friendly than some of the technologically “advanced” large operations promoted as progress. His example about free-range chickens illustrates this paradox well.
I think he rightly warns African leaders not to simply discard or undermine these localized, traditional agricultural methods in favor of whatever external experts and policies advise. There is value in indigenous practices that have been honed over generations. At the same time, technology and innovation do have roles to play – it is finding the right balance.
His core message serves as an important reminder for richer Western nations not to assume their norms and ways of doing things are automatically superior or should be exported as universal climate solutions. There is much the rest of the world can learn from the sustainability embedded in many traditional African food production techniques, if leaders have the wisdom to recognize these practices. Any truly effective climate policies need to take into account local contexts and traditional knowledge.
In terms of constructive criticism, the post lacked much nuance or acknowledgement of any downsides of traditional practices. And while rightly pushing back on paternalistic policies from outsiders, Ekekwe could have provided more specific suggestions for smart ways African nations can advance their own localized sustainability agendas. But overall, I think he raises very fair concerns that COP28 delegates should consider.
Comment 2: Only the cooking, taste and aroma of our local chicken tells us which is better. Releasing EV buses when we have no constant electricity is really a funny deal. Even lithium batteries are notYou’re absolutely right Prof about not taking the climate deals hook-line-and sink
Comment 3: A very sound submission, but then, the message was addressed to the wrong people. The Nigerian delegates are in Dubai for merrymaking, and not for the very essence of the event. Thus,this should have been better addressed to the Nigerian masses than those looters destroying NGR.
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