1.1 Background Information
Agriculture remains the main source of livelihood for rural communities in sub-Sahara Africa providing employment for more than 60 percent of the population; contributing about 30 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and accounted for up to 55 percent of the total value of Africas export (Sokona and Denton (2001). The World Bank (2000) observed that 70 percent of all Africans and nearly 90 percent of Africa’s poor work primarily in agriculture. Climate change affects agriculture and agriculture also affects climate change through the emission of greenhouse gases (GHG) from different farming practices (Maraseni, Mustaq, and Maroulis 2009; Edwards and Harris, 2009).
The term “climate change” often refers to changes in climate which according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC (2007), are 90-95 percent likely to have been in part caused by human action. It describes changes in the variability of average state of the atmosphere over time scales, ranging from a decade to millions of years (Adejuwon, 2004). Swings in the global climate pattern have aroused attention at local, national and international levels (Onyeneke, 2010). Moreover, climate change is expected to increase with increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather conditions in Nigeria’s coastal and rainforest regions (Babatunde, Ayobami and Mark, 2011). The implications for the region are that it would generally experience wetter than average climate, more extreme weather conditions, particularly erosion, sea level rise and floods (Onyeneke, Iruo, and Ogboko,2012).
Given that agriculture and fishing remains the main sources of livelihood for most rural communities in Nigeria’s coastal and rainforest regions, climate change is expected to have greater negative impacts on poorer farm households as they have the lowest capacity to adapt to change in climate conditions and more vulnerable to vagaries that are climate induced (.Onyeneke, Iruo, and Ogboko 2012; Onyeneke and Madukwe, 2010). Adaptation measures are therefore important to help these communities to better face extreme weather conditions and associated climate variations (Adger, Brown, Conway, and Hulme, 2003). Estimates by Building Nigeria’s Response to Climate Change (BNRCC) (2011) suggest that, in the absence of adaptation, climate change could result to loss of 6% and 30% by the year 2050 (BNRCC, 2011). This loss is equivalent to
N15 trillion (US$100 billion) and has the potential to significantly contribute to reductions in negative impacts from changes in climatic conditions as well as other changing socioeconomic conditions (Kandlinkar and Risbey, 2000).
According to the Inter Academy Council Report (IACR) (2004), adverse climate change impacts are considered to be particularly strong in countries located in tropical Africa that depend on agriculture as their main source of livelihood. The challenge this poses affects sustainable development on the continent. This challenge is composed of the likely impacts on the ecosystem, agricultural production, and livelihoods. Generally, losses in the agricultural sector due to climate change have economy wide consequences, like loss in gross domestic output, a decline in the income and the general deterioration on households’ welfare. Climate change is also expected to exacerbate Africa’s struggles with strained water resources and food security. Mendelsohn, Dinar and Dalfelt. (2000) affirmed that rising global temperatures are expected to increase flooding in coastal areas, cause declines in agricultural production, threaten biodiversity and the productivity of natural resources, increase and exacerbate desertification. Thereby exerting a disproportionately adverse impact on Africa’s agriculture-based economy. To make matters worse, Africa has a low adaptive capacity due to its dependence on rain fed agriculture, low levels of human and physical studies on the effects of climate change on economic variables, estimated and a very high predicted loss of income due to climate change through crop simulation experiments (Rosenzweig and Parry, 1994).
Nigeria, like all the countries in Sub-Sahara Africa is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC 2007; Nigerian Environmental Study Team (NEST 2004). IPCC (2007) further noted that Nigeria specifically, ought to have been concerned by climate change because of the country’s high vulnerability due to its long (800km) coastline that is prone to sea-level rise and the risk of fierce storms.
Climate change which is attributable to natural climate cycle and human activities, has adversely affected agricultural productivity in Africa (Ziervogel, Nyong, Osman, Conde, Cortes, and Dowing, 2006). As the planet warms, rainfall patterns shift and extreme events such as droughts, flood, and forest fires become more frequent (Zoellick, 2009). This results in poor and unpredictable yields which subject farmers to vulnerable events (United Nation Framework and Convention on Climate ChangeUNFCCC, 2007). Farmers who constitute the bulk of the poor in Africa face challenges of tragic crop failures, reduced agricultural productivity, increased hunger, malnutrition and disease.
Food crises in countries such as Nigeria are reminders of the continuing vulnerability of the region to the vicissitudes of climatic conditions. This is in large measure due to weak institutional capacity, limited engagement in environmental and adaptation issues, and a lack of validation of local knowledge (Adams et al. 1988, Royal society 2005; BNRCC, 2008) Accordingly, there is the need to gain as much information as possible, and learn the positions of rural farmers and their needs, on what they know about climate change in order to offer adaptation practices that meet these needs (Apata, Samuel and Adeola, 2009). Specifically in West Africa, small changes in comparison to the normal climatic factors can lead to climate extremes with disastrous consequences on agriculture, animal resources, and the economy as a whole. Other phenomena such as desertification, deforestation and in particular, migration of populations as a result of poverty associated to climatic effects call for urgent sensitization and actions for government and populations on climatic risk and their mitigation; and also their integration into development strategies (ECA,2008). The vulnerability of developing countries like Nigeria is worsened by heavy reliance on renewable natural resources for livelihoods, employment and incomes.
In view of the foregoing, the following research questions are deemed appropriate:
- What are the socioeconomic characteristics of crop farmers in the study area?
- What is the level of awareness and the perception of crop farmers about climate change phenomenon in the study area?
- What is the level of vulnerability of crop farmers to the consequences of climate change in the study area?
- What are the indigenous and emerging adaptation measures used by the crop farmers in the study area, and
- What are the factors affecting the choice of adaptation measures selected by the farmers?
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The main objective of the study is to analyse the vulnerability and adaptation of crop farmers to climate change in Agricultural Zone 1 of Niger State, Nigeria. The specific objectives are to:
The following null hypothesis were tested in this study; The following farmer-specific and institutional factors do not significantly explain the vulnerability of farmers to climate change;
a) age b) gender c) level of education d) access to credit e ) membership of association and f) access to warning information.
1.5 Justification for the Study
Adverse climate change impacts are considered to be particularly strong in countries located in tropical Africa that depend on agriculture as their main source of livelihood. Climate change influences crop production and have impacts on agriculture which become a crucial challenge for sustainable development on the continent. The challenge is composed of the likely impacts on the ecosystem services, agricultural production and livelihoods. The socioeconomic characteristics of crop farmers will provide insight on socio economic characteristics and institutional factors significantly affecting the vulnerability of famers to the policy makers to come up with appropriate policies on adaptation measures that will match the attributes of farmers. Information on the level of awareness and perception will guide the extension agency to come up with effective extension service delivery that will help the farmers cope with and adapt to climate change. The findings of the study on the vulnerability of farmers to climate change will assist the policy makers to come up with appropriate policies that will reduce level of vulnerability of crop farmers to climate change. Farmers will also use the results as a handy guide to improve upon their resilience to climate change phenomena. The findings will also serve as spring board for the conduct of further research.
Till date, little attention had been devoted to investigate the extent of vulnerability of crop farmers in Niger State Nigeria. This is evidenced by a dearth of such studies which necessitated the conduct of this study.