FEDERAL government through the Federal Ministry of Environment has disclosed its plan to embark on a large scale cultivation of Jatropha plant as a means of production of a viable green alternative to fossil fuels Speaking at the Environment Dialogue 1: “Diversification of the economy-the role of Jatropha” in Abuja yesterday, the Minister of Environment, Mrs Amina Mohammed said the dialogue conference was a great opportunity to empower people, take urgent climate action and protect environment as a collective responsibility. Mohammed said that Nigeria has taken a huge step in her efforts to reduce effects of climate change by signing the Paris Agreement earlier this month. “ The president Muhammadu Buhari further made commitments to integrating the principles of sustainable development by agreeing to mainstream the Sustainable Development Goals into the our development agenda,” she said. The Minister maintained that there was no better time to dialogue on ways to support the diversification of the economy, looking at role of Jatropha, which will be a response to empowering people and creating decent jobs. She said economy of the nation is facing more challenges as a result of global fall in oil price, corruption and vandalism of pipelines and oil installations in Niger Delta area, adding that all these challenges if not addressed holistically now, may lead to exodus of teeming population from their places of abode to other places which may aggravate the present social crisis. Mohammed said Nigeria like other countries should strategise and look towards providing alternative renewable sources of energy. Enumerating the objectives of the dialogue, the Minister said it will help to develop a national strategy for the production, processing and marketing of Jatropha for sustainable development, with a clear monitoring and evaluation framework. It helps to secure the buy- in of key stakeholders and ensure clarity of the roles, responsibilities, obligations and commitment of the three tiers of government and other stakeholders to ensure diligent implementation of the outcome of the conference. The dialogue will also help to properly examine the enormous environmental, economical and social benefits of the Jatropha Value Chain among others. Also, in his opening remarks, the Minister of State for Environment, Dr. Ibrahim Usman Jibril said that the prevailing challenges confronting Nigeria are environmental challenges such as forest and land degradation caused by drought, desertification, deforestation, soil erosion, flooding and biodiversity loss which have culminated into poverty and hunger. Jibril said it was on the note of the present climate change and global warming as a result of ozone layer depletion caused by burning of fossil fuel and poor agricultural yield that his ministry deemed it fit to have the Environment Dialogue1 which is the first series among Environment Dialogues the Ministry will organise as a strategy towards the diversification of National economy.

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