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1.1 Background of the study
According to Ayoade (2006), climate is the mean state of atmosphere of an area over a defined period of 30 years, while climate change as defined by Anon (2009) is long term significant environmental changes in the average weather that a given region experiences. Average weather includes temperature, precipitation, wind, humidity, evaporation, pressure and solar radiation. It involves changes in the variability or average state of the atmosphere over durations ranging from decades to millions of years. These environmental changes include higher temperatures and altered precipitation patterns, increased frequency and magnitude of extreme weather events, such as droughts, floods and storms. These have short and long term socio-economic and political consequences including food insecurity, migration, conflicts over resources, damage to farms and increased spread of endemic water and vector- borne diseases ( Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, (IPCC. 2007).
Climate change is perhaps the most serious environmental threat facing mankind world-wide. It affects crop production in several ways, one of which is its direct impact on food production. Climatic change, which is attributable to natural climate cycle and human activities, has adversely affected agricultural productivity in Africa (Ziervogel et al,.2006). As the planet gets warmer, rainfall patterns shift, and extreme events such as droughts, floods, and forest fires become more frequent (Zoellick, 2009), which results in poor and unpredictable crop yields, thereby making farmers more vulnerable, particularly in Africa (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change,
UNFCCC, 2007). Farmers, who constitute the bulk of the poor in Africa, face prospects of tragic crop failures, reduced agricultural productivity, increased hunger, malnutrition and diseases (Zoellick, 2009). It is projected that crop yields in Africa may fall by 10-20% by 2050 or even up to 50% due to climate change (Jones and Thornton, 2002). This is particularly because African agriculture is predominantly rain-fed and hence fundamentally dependent on the vagaries of weather. Unfortunately, just as climate change is negatively affecting crops productivity, the steady increasing human population has led to a rise in the demand for food which caused more land to be put under agricultural cultivation, there will be more pressure on natural ecosystems (Ayoade, 2006; Explore (2005). As the people of Africa strive to overcome poverty and to advance economic growth, this phenomenon threatens to deepen vulnerabilities, erode hard-won gains and seriously undermine prospects for development (Zoellick, 2009). There is therefore the need for concerted efforts towards tackling this menace.
In Nigeria, higher temperatures, long droughts, increasing frequent and violent storms are predicted to exacerbate the current challenges faced by agricultural production system in Nigeria. Already, the climate change rate is gradually exceeding the adaptive capacity of a broad range of crops and forage varieties. Thus, in a long-run, agriculture and agricultural practices will have to adapt to changes to ensure food security for human survival.
It is in the light of the above discussion that this study assessed the awareness of climate change and the adaptation measures adopted by farmers in Sokoto state.
1.2 Problem Statement
According to Enete et al. (2011) most of the agricultural research institutes like the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), National Cereals Research Institute( NCRI), etc. have tended to concentrate attention on assessing the sensitivity of various attributes of crop systems (e.g. crop yields, pests, diseases, weeds, etc) - the bio-physical aspects of food production, with little or no regard to the socioeconomic aspects. These partial assessments, most often consider climate change effects in isolation, providing little insights into the level of awareness of the farmers on the issue, how they are coping with climate change, etc. However, to better address the food security concerns that are central to the economic and sustainable development agenda, it is desirable to also address these aspects of climate change and agriculture. Wisner, et al.(2004) report that the vulnerability of agriculture is not determined by the nature and magnitude of environmental stress like climate change per se, but by the combination of the societal capacity to cope with and/or recover from environmental change. While the coping capacity and degree of exposure is related to environmental changes, they are both also related to changes in societal aspects such as land use and cultural practices. This could be at the root of the much talked about poverty alleviation and food security for the vulnerable groups in Africa, who are most at risk when agriculture is stressed by climate change.
In addition, there is need for increased awareness, teaching, learning and research by Universities and Research Institutes so as to develop a multi-pronged capacity to tackle the imminent danger posed by climate change which is slowly eroding the gains of
the fight against starvation, hunger and poverty among farming communities in Africa (Anselm, et al., 2011).
It is in the light of the foregoing discussion that this study assessed the awareness of climate change among crop farmers in Sokoto State and the adaptation measures employed by the farmers to alleviate the impact of the change. To achieve this, the following research questions were addressed.
1. What are the socio-economic characteristics of the farmers in the study area?
2. What are the farmers’ level of awareness and evidence of climate change in the study area?
3. What are the farmers’ sources of information on climate change?
4. What are the causes and effects of climate change on crop production?
5. What are the climate change adaptation measures adopted by farmers?
6. What are the constraints encountered by the farmers’ in adoption of adaptation measures?
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The main objective of this study is to assess the awareness of arable crop farmers on climate change and the adaptation measures adopted by the farmers in the northern zone of Sokoto State Agricultural Development Project.
The specific objectives are to:
1. Describe the socio-economic characteristics of the farmers.
2. Examine the farmers’ level of awareness and evidence of climate change in the study area.
3. Identify the farmers’ sources of information on climate change.
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