The Role of the Agricultural Economist in Agricultural Adaptation to Climate Change in the Oil Palm Industry in the Southern Nigeria

Author(s): Anthony C. Ojemade, Ogonna Olive Osuafor, Ebere O. Offiah

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Published: 2020-04-01

Abstract: When human activities which cause climate change raise threats to the environment, the Agricultural Economist who is also a policy maker should take careful measures even if some cause and effect relationships are not established. The vulnerability of Nigerian Agricultural sector to climate change is of particular interest to policy makers in the economy accounting for higher percentage of the labour force. There are many adaptation options which can be adopted by farmers at low cost but proper estimates of adaptation cost and benefits are currently deficient due to the involvement of wrong climate change actors. As is the case with making an economic decision, the astute response by an Agricultural Economist will depend on equating and or comparing benefits and cost. When the expected benefits of adaptation are positive, the rational decision maker (the Oil Palm farmer) will take adaptive actions. Policy options in particular must become available. Climate change will almost surely make life even harder for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable Oil Palm farmer. An Agricultural Economist must play his role in reducing the society’s vulnerability to losses from climate change and avoid restricting farmers’ capacity to adapt by limiting their options. The devastating effects of climate change and the need for an integrated response requires resilient and adaptive institutions and exemplary actors like the Agricultural Economist to lead the process towards creating an enabling environment for adaptation to climate change. This paper described the potential role the Agricultural Economist can play in climate change adaptation, in the Oil Palm industry and aims to address the question: what policy and institutional changes are needed to encourage agricultural adaptation strategies/ practices to develop the industry and the nation as a whole. The paper concluded that advances in understanding of climate change adaptation can come from collection of better data, development of new methods and models, observation of changes in climate and its effects, by an Agricultural Economist in order to accommodate new dimensions brought about by climate change.

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