Adaptation is considered an appropriate response to climate change and variability, especially for rural farmers. However, the farmers’ ability to effectively respond to climate change challenges is determined by the quality of information available to the farmers and how easily the
information is accessed. The study sought to assess the information needs of rural farmers on climate change. A total of I52 respondents were selected using multistage sampling technique. Percentages, mean scores, standard deviations, factor analysis and multiple linear regression
model were used in data analysis and presentation. The findings show that all the respondents indicated awareness of climate change. However, the knowledge score used indicated that none of the respondents had high knowledge on climate change. The respondents’ major and perceived reliable sources of knowledge were personal observations and friends. These information sources according to the findings were useful especially on adaptation. The major areas of information needs of the farmers on adaptation were use of improved varieties, occupational diversification, use of weed tolerant varieties, change in timing of farm operations, use of herbicides and pesticides and incorporating residue into the soil.
- BACKGROUND INFORMATION
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. Interest in this issue has motivated a substantial body of research on climate change and agriculture over the past decade (Lobell et al, 2008; Wolfe et al, 2005; Fischer et al, 2002). Climate change is expected to influence crop and livestock production, hydrologic balances, input supplies and other components of agricultural systems. However, the nature of these biophysical effects and the human responses to them are complex and uncertain. It is evidenced that climate change will have a strong impact on Nigeria-particularly in the areas of agriculture; land use, energy, biodiversity, health and water resources. Nigeria, like all the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, is highly vulnerable to the impacts of Climate Change (IPCC 2007; NEST 2004). It was also, noted that Nigeria specifically ought to be 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. In addition, almost 2/3 of Nigeria’s land cover is prone to drought and desertification. Its water resources are under threat which will affect energy sources (like the Kainji and Shiroro dam). Moreover, rain-fed agriculture practiced and fishing activities from which 2/3 of the Nigerian population depend primarily on foods and livelihoods are also under serious threat besides the high population pressures of 140 million people surviving on the physical environment through various activities within an area of 923,000 square kilometers (IPCC 2007; NEST 2004). Food crop farmers in South Western Nigeria provide the bulk of arable crops that are consumed locally, also, major food crop supplies to other regions in the country. The local farmers are experiencing climate change even though they have not considered its deeper implications. This is evidenced in the late arrival of rain, the drying-up of stream and small rivers that usually flows yearround, the seasonal shifting of the “Mango rains” and of the fruiting period in the Southern part of Oyo State (Ogbomosho), and the gradual disappearance of flood-recession cropping in riverine areas of Ondo state are among the effects of climate disturbances in some communities of South-Western Nigeria (BNRCC, 2008). To approach the issue appropriately, one must take into account local communities’ understanding of climate change, since they perceive climate as having a strong spiritual, emotional, and physical dimension. It is therefore assumed that these communities have an inborn, adaptive knowledge from which to draw and survive in high-stress ecological and socio-economic conditions. Thus, the human response is critical to understanding and estimating the effects of climate change on production and food supply for ease of adaptation. Accounting for these adaptations and adjustments is necessary in order to estimate climate change mitigations and responses.
- STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
It is obvious that many rural farmers are aware that climate is changing through some observable changes in the weather pattern, environment and on their farms too. Changes they describe as prolonged bad weather, change of weather conditions, situation of volatile weather, short rainfall duration and prolonged dry season, thunderstorm and heavy rains, too much rain and too much sun, unpredictable change in the pattern of rainfall, unpredictable start and end of rains, unstable weather, and variation in rainfall pattern and sunshine intensity (Ozor, Madukwe, Onokala and Enete, et. al., 2010). However, it is not just enough to know that there are changes in the weather conditions; it is important to understand what these change are all about. Rural farmers may lack a precise and comprehensive understanding of climate change and this can lead to misconceptions and their inability to adapt to the changes. In other words, many of them may be incapacitated to face the future challenges if they are not adequately informed. Besides that, many rural farmers may not know the causes of climate change for instance; some of their agricultural activities like bush burning, deforestation, urine and other droppings from their farm animals, and swamp rice production are some of the major causes of climate change. In other words, they may unintentionally contribute to the global threat of climate change. Some of them may equally be ignorant of the fact that urbanization; industrialization and burning of fossil fuels equally contribute to climate change.
Consequently, it is of essence to provide answers to the following questions. What do rural farmers in Enugu state know about climate change? What are their perceived causes, effects, mitigation and adaptation strategies? Where do they get their climate change related information from? What information do they need on climate change? What factors militate against effective communication of information on climate change? What are the possible strategies for improving information dissemination on climate change? It is based on these research questions that the following objectives of the study were drawn.
- OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The general purpose of the study was to identify climate change information needs of rural farmers in Enugu state. Specifically, the study is designed to:
- To ascertain the knowledge level of rural farmers on agriculture-related climate change issues.
- To ascertain farmers sources of information on climate change
- To determine farmers’ perceived reliability and usefulness of climate change information received.
- To identify types of climate change information needed by the farmers
- To identify factors militating against effective communication of climate change information.
- To find out the possible strategies for improving information dissemination on climate change to rural farmers.
- RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
H0: The socio economic and institutional characteristics of rural farmers have no significant influence on their knowledge level on agriculture related climate change issues.
H1: The socio economic and institutional characteristics of rural farmers have significant influence on their knowledge level on agriculture related climate change issues.
H0: Farmers in Enugu State have no sources of information as regards to climate change in Nigeria.
H2: Farmers in Enugu State have sources of information as regards to climate change in Nigeria.
- SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
It is very obvious that climate change is real and one of the main causes has been attributed to anthropogenic (human) activities which include among others deforestation for agricultural and other human related purposes. Unfortunately, the rural farmers who engage in this activity are the most vulnerable. It is hoped that the findings of this study will help to bridge the gap between what the farmers know and what they need to know about climate change which can then help to accelerate the adoption of appropriate cost effective mitigation and adaptation practices which drastically minimize their vulnerability and increase their output, income and overall wellbeing. This can equally bring about the needed collaboration between the climate change information sources, trained extension agents and the farmers in order to bridge the information gap of rural farmers on climate change in Enugu state. The result of the study will equally be of help to the agencies (research/metrological centres, NGOs, ADPs particularly extension agents etc) responsible for disseminating climate change information to rural farmers. It will help them to know what the farmers understand and the information need to be targeted to them on climate change. It can help in knowing what the farmers already know and how it differs from what they need to know in order to make effective decision. This is because if the right information (which should start from what the farmers know) is not targeted to the rural farmers, the desired result may not be achieved. The findings of this study will equally add to knowledge on information needs of rural farmers on climate change in Enugu State.
- SCOPE AND LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
The study centers on climate change information needs of rural farmers specifically in Enugu state. The study will examine socioeconomic characteristics in the study area, identify the climate adaptation strategies adopted by the smallholder farmers and examine the factors that determine the climate adaptation strategies adopted by smallholder farmers in the state.
The researcher encounters some constraints which limited the scope of the study;
FINANCE: Due to the agricultural operation within the scope, the researcher spends a lot of money on visiting, traveling from one location to another, from one office to the other and even had to repeat a visit more than three times to seek for information, all these involves money considering the financial constraint of the researcher and limited resources available to her.
SOURCES OF INFORMATION: Many farmers in Enugu State were reluctant to give out or provide information about the research, since they believe that such information is something very confidential and therefore could not open up to the researcher.
INADEQUATE RECORD KEEPING: Some of the respondents visited were unable to present complete and comprehensive records of their farmer business. While some were not keeping proper records of their agricultural activities and as such could not give adequate and correct information on the effect of vat on their businesses rippling on the economy of Nigeria.
TIME: Time constraint has been another vital limitation and obstacle towards effective realization of the main objectives of this study. Time was really not on my side since I have to combine the little time left with my academic work and preparation.
- DEFINITION OF TERMS
Climate change: Climate change is a change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns when that change lasts for an extended period of time (i.e., decades to millions of years). Climate change may refer to a change in average weather conditions, or in the time variation of weather within the context of longer-term average conditions.
Information: Information is that which informs. In other words, it is the answer to a question of some kind. It is thus related to data and knowledge, as data represents values attributed to parameters, and knowledge signifies understanding of real things or abstract concepts.
Rural: In general, a rural area or countryside is a geographic area that is located outside towns and cities. The Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines the word “rural” as encompassing “…all population, housing, and territory not included within an urban area. Whatever is not urban is considered rural.
Farmers: A farmer is a person engaged in agriculture, raising living organisms for food or raw materials. The term usually applies to people who do some combination of raising field crops, orchards, vineyards, poultry, or other livestock. A farmer might own the farmed land or might work as a laborer on land owned by others, but in advanced economies, a farmer is usually a farm owner, while employees of the farm are known as farm workers, or farmhands.
Adaptation: In biology, adaptation has three related meanings. Firstly it is the dynamic evolutionary process that fits a population of organisms to their environment, enhancing their evolutionary fitness. Secondly, it is a state reached by the population during that process. Thirdly, it is a phenotypic or adaptive trait, with a functional role in each individual organism, that is maintained and has been evolved by natural selection.
1.8 ORGANIZATION OF THE STUDY
This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (overview, of the study), statement of problem, objectives of the study, research question, significance or the study, research methodology, definition of terms and historical background of the study. Chapter two highlight the theoretical framework on which the study is based, thus the review of related literature. Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study. Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding. Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study.
This material content is developed to serve as a GUIDE for students to conduct academic research
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