Detailed agricultural sector burning mapping for Nigeria
The environmental and human costs of agricultural open burning far outweigh the near-term economic benefits for farmers.
Responsible for more than a third of all black carbon emissions, open burning is the single largest source of black carbon, a short-lived climate pollutant that contributes to air pollution, climate change, and increased melting in the cryosphere (regions of snow and ice). Open burning also represents one of the largest causes of air pollution-related illnesses and deaths after cookstoves.
Over time, the repeated practice of open burning becomes costly to farmers. Successive fires destroy the organic matter that makes soil fertile, causing crop yields to decrease over time and increasing the need for costly fertilizers. Smoke and spreading flames also pose a risk to neighbouring communities, buildings, and fields.
Agriculture residues can be a valuable resource worth saving. Crop stubble can be used as an energy source when converted into pellets, and straw can be used in livestock feed or bedding.
Crop stubble burning in Nigeria is responsible for regional-scale air pollution events and damage to sensitive wild ecosystems. Black carbon from burning has also been cited by the International Panel on Climate Change as a source of rain disturbance and patterns over West Africa (IPCC AR5, 2013).
To scale up and accelerate short-lived cliamate pollutant reductions, Nigeria prepared a National Action Plan in which emission abatement strategies in the agriculture sector are a key focus. This includes reducing open burning of agricultural waste.