Background to the Study
Climate change is one of the biggest environmental, social
and economic threats that the world is experiencing (Mendelsohn et al., 2006).
It is a threat to the fight against hunger, malnutrition, disease and poverty
in Africa and Nigeria in particular, mainly through its impact on agricultural
productivity. Agriculture, upon which society depends for the food, feed, and
fibre that enable sustainable livelihoods, is one of the sectors that is most
vulnerable to shifts in climate (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
[IPCC], 2007; National Research Council [NRC], 2010).
Climate change is said to exist when the level of climatic
deviation from the normal is very significant over a long period of time
(preferably centuries) and such deviations have clear and permanent impacts on
the ecosystem (Odjugo, 2009). A drastic change in the climate systems either
due to natural forces or unsustainable human activities results in climate
change. The latter is regarded as the basic cause of on-going climate change and
the advanced countries are most responsible (DeWeerdt, 2007).
Adaptation in the context of climate change is an adjustment
in a system in response to actual or expected climatic changes and its impacts.
It includes adjustments designed to moderate and offset potential damages or to
capitalize on the changes in climate (PELUM 2010). Although climate change
adaptation is recognised in Nigeria‘s development programmes and mainstreaming
plans already begun, many policy analysts are of the opinion that policy statements
declaring government‘s intentions are not new and the major limitation is
whether appropriate mechanisms are put in place to ensure that the poorest
farmers benefit from government‘s plan (Odozi, 2014).
Rice is Nigeria‘s most important staple crop, but despite
ever-growing demand, the sector remains largely underdeveloped. There is great
potential for production, particularly in the north, but Nigeria is actually
one of the largest rice importers in the world, importing $3bn per year
(Hussaini, 2016). Only 10% of Nigerian rice farmers have access to improved
seed stock, compared to 25% in East Africa and 60% in Asia (Gyimah-Brempong et
al., 2016), so national production is inevitably sub-optimal.
Rice transformation strategy under the Agricultural
Transformation Agenda (ATA) was launched in 2010 by the FGN to make Nigeria
become rice self sufficient. The strategy was to produce more paddy and
industrial grade milled rice that could compete with imported rice in the
market. To this end, 268,000 farmers were given leverage through subsidies in
seeds, fertilizers, provision of watering pumps for irrigation farming in ten
States of the north namely: Niger, Kebbi, Sokoto, Kano,
Zamfara, Bauchi Jigawa Katsina, Kogi and Gombe (FGN, 2011). This indicates the
importance of North-West
Nigeria and particularly Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara States in
However, variation in weather and climate has led to a lot
of devastating consequences and effects in various parts of the country
(Odjugo, 2010). These include flooding, deforestation, desertification,
erosion, drought, sea level rise, heat stress, pests and diseases, erratic
rainfall patterns, and land degradation. When temperature exceeds the optimal
level for biological processes, crops often respond negatively with a steep
drop in net growth and yield. Khanal (2009), stated that heat stress might
affect the whole physiological development, maturation and finally reduces the
yield of cultivated crop.
One of the most serious long-term challenges to achieve
sustainable growth in rice production is climate change (Wassmann et al.,
2007). Rice productivity and sustainability are threatened by biotic and
abiotic stresses, and the effects of these stresses can be further aggravated
by dramatic changes in global climate. Drought and flood already cause
widespread rice yield losses across the globe and the expected increase in
drought and flood occurrence due to climate change would further add to rice
production losses in the future. Thus the major challenge is the potential
adverse effect of changing climate on rice production and being the factor
limiting increase in annual yield (Ayinde et al., 2013).
1.2. Problem Statement
In terms of rice production in Nigeria, the North-West was
second in the year 2013, after the North-Central, with production of 1,294,200
Metric Tonnes which was 28.6% of the country‘s total(Rapu, 2016).According to
Ezedinma (2008) Kebbi and Sokoto States are among the major rainfed upland and
irrigated rice ecologies in Nigeria, producing 44% of total domestic production
at an average yield of 1.7t/ha and 2.2t/ha for the rainfed upland and irrigated
rice, respectively. However, rice farming is highly dependent on environmental
factors which are the most important among several factors that influence
agricultural production(Onyegbula, 2017).
According to Edeh et al. (2011), rice production depends on
optimum combination of factors of production in order to achieve remarkable
yield. These factors are not limited to the familiar production inputs but
include the various environmental factors provided by nature. Rainfall
characteristics (intensity and duration), relative humidity and temperature
constitute these weather-related and environmental factors that affect rice
yield and its variability. Rice production which is one of the world‘s most
important crops for ensuring food security and addressing poverty will be
thwarted as temperatures in rice-growing areas, increase with continued change
in climate(Gumm, 2010).
Climate change has brought uncertainty to weather conditions
in Nigeria most especially in the northern part of the country which accounts
for the major food crops produced e.g. rice. Hence, the most viable option for
the rice farmers is to use the climate change adaptation practices.
Farmers have a long history of responding to climate
variability. Traditional and newly introduced adaptation practices can help
farmers to cope with both current climate variability and future climate
change. However, the debate about the adaptation of small-scale farmers to
climate change has occurred in the absence of knowledge about existing and
potential adaptation practices. Because prevailing ideas about adaptation are
vague, conducting focused research on potential adaptation practices and
formulating appropriate advice for implementing new practices is difficult
(Below et al., 2010).
The evident fallout of climate change according to IPCC
(2007); Kurukulasuriya and Mendelsohn (2006) can be reduced through adaptation.
Although, African farmers have a low capacity to adapt to changes owing to low
technological development, poverty and illiteracy, they have survived and coped
in various ways. Better understanding of how they have done this is essential
for designing incentives to enhance adaptation (Mohammed et al., 2014).
Supporting the adaptation strategies of local farmers through appropriate
public policy and investment and collective actions can help increase the
adaptation measures that will reduce the negative consequences of predicted
changes in future climate with great benefits to vulnerable rural communities
in Africa and Nigeria in particular (Hassan and Nhemachena, 2008).
Research on adaptation-climate change interaction have been
conducted mainly in the southern part of Nigeria (Ajewole and Aiyeloya, 2004;
Onyenechere and Igbozurike, 2008; Apata et al., 2009; Ozor, 2009; Nwalieji and
Onwubuya, 2012; Ugwoke et al., 2012; Ayanwuyi et al., 2010, Oyerinde et al.,
2010; Anyoha et al. 2013 and Bako, 2013) with relatively few in North-East and
North-Central (Adebayo et al., 2012; Idrisa et al., 2012; Falaki et al., 2013
and Ayinde et al. 2013) and seldom if any, in the North-West. Moreover, the
information obtained from these studies is not sufficient to represent the
whole country as most of the previous studies focused on different
agro-ecological zones with different social, institutional and environmental
settings. This study, covering three States in the North-West, therefore will
bridge the existing gap in knowledge on climate change adaptation information
in the North-West and Nigeria in general.
It seems that there is a gap between the rate at which
climate is changing and the response to reduce its impact through employment of
adaptation strategies that ensure sustainable food security (Mudzonga, 2012).
In spite of this, factors that influence farmers‘ decisions to adapt to climate
change in North-West, Nigeria are not well known. This study seeks to
investigate the factors that influence farmers‘ decision to adapt to climate
change in order to inform policy formulation that enhances farmers‘ capacity to
adapt to climate change. It investigates the factors influencing climate change
adaptation practices among rice farmers in Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara States of
North-West, Nigeria. Kebbi and Sokoto States were among the fifteen states
identified under the Rice Transformation Agenda of the Federal Government of
Nigeria (FGN) (The other states were Kano, Niger, Kaduna, Taraba, Adamawa,
Kwara, Ebonyi, Cross River, Bayelsa, Borno, Enugu, Ekiti and Ogun). They
produce mainly lowland rice. This study intends to answer the following