AN ASSESSMENT OF THE PERCEPTION OF LOCAL FARMERS ON CLIMATE CHANGE
BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Climate change is one of the greatest contemporary environmental challenges and is global in dimension. The rising incidences of extreme climatic events associated with climate change are giving the greatest of the concerns. Even for skeptics, events such as prolonged dry seasons, long rainfall durations and excessively long Harmattan periods are worrying. More and more people are getting to ask about what can be done to minimize the impact of the change.
The Inter-government Panel on climate change (IPPC, 2007) defined climate change as statistically significant variations in climate that persist for an extended period, typically decades or longer. It includes shifts in the frequency and magnitude of sporadic weather events as well as the slow continuous rise in global mean surface temperature.
Climate change is a change in climate that is attributable directly or indirectly to human activities. It affects the atmospheric conditions of the earth thereby leading to global warming. According to Raymond and Victoria (2008), climate change has the potential to affect all natural systems thereby becoming a threat to human development and survival socially, politically and economically. Interest in this issue has motivated a substantial body of research on climate cha- nge and agriculture over the past decade (Fischer, et al., 2002; Darwin, 2004; Lobell, et al., 2008; Nelson, et al. 2009). Climate change is expected to influence crop production, hydrologic balances, input supplies and other components of agricultural systems. However, the changes occur due to variation in different climatic parameters such as cloud cover, precipitation, temperature and increase in Green House Gases (GHG’s) emission through human activities. Adverse impacts of climate change in Nigeria include frequent drought, increased rural-urban migration, increased biodiversity loss, depletion of wild and other natural resource base, changes in vegetation types, increased health risk and the spread of infectious diseases and changing livelihood systems (Abaje and Giwa, 2007; Hassan and Nhemachena, 2008).
Of Nigeria’s 923,768km2 land size, 34% is occupied by crops, 23% by grassland and 16% by forests, approximately 13% is rivers, lakes and reservoirs, and the remaining 14% fall under other uses according to Ajayi (2009). Also, small scale farm holdings predominate in Nigeria, accounting for about 94% of the agricultural output (Ajayi, 2009). Agriculture employs over 70% of the population, contributes about 41% of GDP, accounts for 5% total export and provides 88% of non-oil earnings. Besides, almost all sectors of agriculture which are crop production, livestock farming, pastoralism, fishery etc. depend on climate whose variability have meant that local farmers who implement their regular annual farm business plans risk total failure due to climate change effects (Ozor et al, 2010). The conditions emanating from climate change are bound to compromise agricultural productions (crop, livestock, forest and fishery resources), nutritional and health statuses, trading in agricultural commodities, human settlements especially of agricultural communities, tourism and recreation among others (Tologbonse, et al. 2010) Nigeria like all the countries of sub-Saharan Africa is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change (IPCC, 2007). Despite the fact that efforts have been made towards fighting climate change from scientific views, research and policies directed towards indigenous knowledge and perception are highly needed. Understanding of local perception is useful in assessing the true implications of changing climate. Therefore there is the need to gain as much information as possible, and learn the positions of rural farmers and their needs, about what they know about climate change, in order to offer adaptation practices that meet these needs.
Climate change is a major challenge to agricultural development in Africa and the world at large. Ziervogel, et al. 2006 noted that climate change, which is attributable to natural climate cycle and human activities, has adversely affected agricultural productivity in Africa, making Agriculture one of the sectors most vulnerable to climate change impact in Africa, as observed by Falaki et al 2013, the impact of climate is more where agriculture is rain fed and essential for the daily existence such in Nigeria.Zoellick 2009 stated that, as the planet warms, rainfall patterns shift, and extreme events such as drought, floods and forest fires become more frequent. This results in poor and unpredictable yields, thereby making farmers more vulnerable, particularly in Africa (UNFCCC, 2007). Across Nigeria, millions of people are already experiencing changing seasonal patterns of rainfall and increased heat. Climate therefore determines to a large extent availability of water which impacts health and ultimately the level of poverty among Nigerians. Agriculture places heavy burden on the environment in the process of providing humanity with food and fiber while climate is the primary determinant of agricultural productivity. Given the fundamental role of agriculture in human welfare, concern has been expressed by federal agencies and others regarding the potential effects of climate change on agricultural productivity.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Climate change is a serious challenge to socio economic developments even in the developed countries of the world. In Nigeria and other parts of Africa, agriculture occupies a critical position particularly in food production and generation of employment. A significant proportion of actors in the agricultural sectors are however, likely to have little or no idea about climate change because of their level of awareness Thus although they suffer more of the impact of climate change, they probably do not know the depth of what is happening to the system. There is therefore a need to gain an understanding of farmers’ perception of climate change so that they can be appropriately targeted in climate change response actions.
Human perception of environmental issues have been broadly categorized as cognitive (related to knowledge and understanding), affective (related to feelings, attitudes and emotions), behavioural (related to changes in behaviour of the viewer) and physiological (biological or physical effects on the observer’s body) Zube, et al, 1982.
However, perception decides over resource allocation, without perceiving the risk adequately all other determents seem meaningless. The effects of climate change leads to land degradation which reduces the quality and productivity and manifest throughout the country while in the southern part of Nigeria, the problem is coastal erosion and flooding, in the Sahelian zone of north, the most pronounced climate changed related reforms of land degradation are wind erosion and related sand dune formation, drought and desertification, sheet erosion which results to the complete removal of arable land is Nigeria’s biggest threat to agriculture especially in the sandy soils regions of south-eastern Nigeria.
Perception determines the social mental picture of climate change. But a number of other variables like socio-demographic and socio-economic factors or ideological orientations, awareness level, information source influence perception and the mental picture of climate change (Sjoberg, 1995; Stedman, 2004). But the extent to which these factors influence perception of climate change particularly among local farmers have not received adequate attention in the literature and thus remains a subject of research focus.
Fundamentally, the location, size and characteristic relief of Nigeria give rise to a variety of climates ranging from tropical rainforest climate along the coast to the Sahel climate in the Northern part of the country, each being different in its annual precipitation, sunshine and other climate elements (Adejuwom, 2004). In spite of this Nigeria is yet to put in place an agency that would negotiate and co-ordinate the nation’s climate change activities (Agwu, et al., 2011). Farmers in trying to come to terms with climate change have developed strategies for adaptation and mitigation of its effects. Some of these measures include cover cropping, early planting, prompt weeding, regulated use of agro-chemicals and use of tolerant varieties (DelPHE, 2010). However, previous adaptive measures used by farmers become rapidly obsolete and ineffective due to the pace at which adverse climate events take place (Eneteet al., 2011). Action Aid (2008) reports that farmers in the Southeastern part of Nigeria have continued to complain of reduction in farm output arising from the uncertainty of rainfall patterns, increased erosion resulting from heavy down pour which simultaneously destroy the fertility and at times washing away of plants and human settlements. The unfortunate aspect of the climate change dilemma in Nigeria is that most of the farmers do not understand or appreciate their contributions to climate change devastations. This is more so among rural farmers who still engage in traditional forms of slash and burn system of farming (Agwuet al., 2011). Evidence abounds in climate change literature that farmers are aware that the climate has changed and that this change has affected negatively their output (Eneteet al., 2011) but what they do not seem to appreciate is how their farming activities drive climate change. It is, therefore, important to investigate how farmers, who are major environmental stakeholders, perceive the issue of climate change, what types of changes they have observed in the past and how they have coped with them. Answers to these and other several related questions constitute the purpose of this study.
1.3 Research Questions
1. What level of knowledge do local farmers have about climate change and what actions do they take?
2. What are their sources of information about climate change?
3. What is their perception about the effects of climate change?
4. What are the coping strategies adopted?
5. What actions can government take to alleviate the problems of climate change?
1.4 Aim and Objectives of the study
Aim of the Study
The aim of this study is to assess the perception of local farmers on climate change
The specific objectives are to:
1. Examine farmers’ level of knowledge about climate change and possible actions taken.
2. Analyse farmers’ sources of information about climate change.
3. Analyse farmers’ perception about the effects of climate change in the study area.
4. Examine the coping strategies adopted by farmers.
5. Examine government actions in alleviating the effects of climate change
1. Farmer’s knowledge of climate change varies significantly in the study area.
2. There is a significant variation in farmer’s sources of information on climate change.
3. Farmers perception of climate change varies significantly in the study area.
4. There is a significant variation in climate change coping strategies adopted by farmers
1.6 Study Area
Ido is a Local Government Area in oyo State, Nigeria. Its headquarters are in the town of Ido, it is situated along Ibadan-Eruwa road. It is located between Latitude 6′ 45′ and 9′ 45′ North of the Equator and Longitude 2′ 30′ and 9′ 45′ East of Greenwich Meridian. The Local Government was created during the second republic on May 29, 1989 and it shares boundary with Oluyole Local Government, Ibarapa East Local Government, Akinyele Local Government, Ibadan North West Local Government, Ibadan South West Local Government, Ibadan North Local Government areas of Oyo state and Odeda Local Government in Ogun state. It was among the five in Ibadan district before it was cancelled in 1956, other four local Governments that were in existence at that time were Mapo, Akinyele, Ona-ara, and Olode-Olojumo.
It has an area of 986km2 and a population of 103,261 using a growth rate of 3.2% from 2006 census, it has population density of 116 persons by square kilometer. Like most cities in Southern Nigeria, Ido is characterized by two distinct seasons: the dry and the rainy season. It enjoys abundant rainfall of over 1800mm annually and the south-westerly winds blow most of the year.
The people are predominantly Yorubas and the area is blessed with fertile land, which is suitable for agriculture. The main occupation of the people is farming mainly food and cash crops such as cassava, maize, yam, vegetable, timber, cocoa, oil palm and kolanut, there are also large hectares of grassland which are suitable for animal rearing, vast forest reserves and rivers. The Local Government is a block under the Ibadan/Ibarapa agricultural zone of the Oyo state Agricultural Programme (OYSADEP). The people of Ido are mainly small scale farmers with significant proportion of the farmers engaging in secondary occupation such as hunting, trading, artisan, civil service jobs, food processing. There are also some industries located within the Local Government Area,these include the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Nigeria Wire and Cable, Nigeria Mining Corporation and Cassava Processing Industry. The Local Government area has 75 primary schools, 33 secondary schools made up of 18 junior secondary school and 15 senior secondary school.