AN ASSESSMENT OF THE PERCEPTION OF LOCAL FARMERS ON CLIMATE CHANGE

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ABSTRACT

Recent research efforts on climate change impacts and adaptation have focused on global and regional assessment using models which paint bigger picture of climate change and only provides estimate of likely consequences. Such efforts, for the most parts, treated each region in isolation and do not integrate assessment potential effects of climate change on specific location. This study which assessed farmers’ perception and adaptation strategies to climate change in Kaduna introduced location specific or micro-level assessment approach to climate change research in the study area which is currently lacking. Data were collected from a questionnaire survey using sample of 1,750 rural farmers in Kaduna and Focus Group Discussion was conducted. Simple descriptive statistics and Principal Component Analysis (PCA) were the statistics used to analyze the data. The study reveals the following: climate change is present in the area, perception of climate change by farmers in the area, are in line with results of meteorological data records of 10 decades analyzed, farmer’s awareness of climate change in their immediate environment seems to be limited compare to their awareness of global climate change, there are few existing coping and traditional adaptation measures in the area, climate change information dissemination in the state is poor and weak, there is poor preparedness of the people for climate change episode in the state hence the high impacts of climate change on the farmers, some climate change challenges in the area include: High rainfall variability, Floods episodes especially in recent years, Increase incidence of new pest and diseases, extreme heat stress due to increasing temperature, Crops failure due to prolonged dry spells or drought condition. Based on the findings, the following actions by the government of Kaduna state were suggested: raise farmers awareness on issues of climate change, create conducive policy that will enhance adaptive capacity of the rural farmers, improve on existing support service delivery mechanism, seize on new climate change opportunities, diversify livelihood activity in the state, create small credit programme through its MDG, NEED, Poverty Alleviation Scheme etc. to provide access to fund by the farmers, establish a reliable data base generation system to provide real time rainfall and temperature information at local level. The implications of the study is that there is the need to move from the top to down conventional approach based on climate scenarios generated through general circulation models to bottom to top approach which focuses on more holistic impact assessment and adaptation to climate change, so as to develop policies and adaptation strategies that are precise to specification.

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 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).