THE ASSESSMENT OF CABBAGE FARMERS ADAPTATION TO CLIMATE VARIABILITY IN THE BUEA MUNICIPALITY
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Farming and marketing of cabbage provides a secure source of continuous income and enables small farms to remain financially viable, especially in the rapid growing peri-urban farming sector. Cabbage is a cool season crop with moderately low optimum temperatures of 15 to 20 °C and high water requirement for optimum performance. Cabbage growth, heading and consequently yields are greatly reduced under higher temperatures. This study thus has as aim to examine the perception and adaptation of cabbage farmers to climate variability in the Buea Municipality. To realize this work, a sample population of 60 persons were sampled in a stratified random manner. In realizing data for this work, descriptive statistics and results were being presented in tables. Findings reveal that majority 80% of the respondent were of the opinion that climate had an effect on cabbage production. 65% of farmers held the view that climate effect results to poor crop yield, followed by 35% who were of the opinion that, climate effect lead to incidence of crop disease. There for it is recommended that The government should organised Sensitization campaigns: Frequent education and information about climate variability and its adaptation strategies should be carried out by stakeholder organizations. The government should ensures that Farmer field school approach can be promoted since it will ensure that farmers have a clear understanding of the weather patterns and the required adaptation options to employ.
1.1 Background of the Study
Cabbage (Brassica Oleracea Var Capitata) is an important vegetable mainly grown by resources restrained small holder farmers for food. It is estimated that nearly half a million families derive substantial on farm earning through the cultivation of cabbage (FAO 2009). Farming and marketing of cabbage provides a secure source of continuous income and enables small farms to remain financially viable especially in the rapid growing peri-urban farming sector (wambani et al 2007). It is estimated that average yield per unit area of a vegetable crop globally is 15tons ha-1 and 30tons ha-1 in sub-Saharan Africa (young 2008). Figures that falls far below the worldwide average production of 50 tons ha-1 are due to the adverse ecological conditions including constant fluctuation in temperature, relative humility, soil moisture, and light factors have been cited among the major constrains to optimal cabbage production in many parts of the globe (Levasseur et al 2006). Cabbage is a cool season crop with moderately low optimum temperatures of 15-20oc and high-water requirements for optimum performance. Cabbage growth, heading and consequently yields are greatly reduced under higher temperatures. Low moisture due to factors such as low and erratic relative humidity and poor soil moisture retention also adversely affects yields and quality of the crop (Alvi 2016).
Climate variability is characterized by erratic rainfall and high temperatures pattern causing dryness, flood, mudflows and erosion in certain areas and periods of the year. Climate variability have effects on small and marginal cabbage farmers particularly those who mainly dependent on vegetable crops like cabbage (FAO 2009). Vegetable crops especially cabbage is considered as protective foods because of the ability to prevent diseases by supplying vitamins and minerals and moreover its nutritional quality is determine by soil factors, temperature, light and carbon dioxide, a little change in this parameter will bring a drastic change in the quality thereby the nutritional value of the vegetable crops (cabbage) may be reduced or increased for instance increase in the level of carbon dioxide improves the vitamin C, sugar, acid and carotenoids in cabbage (Cotty 2007).
In most sub-Saharan countries, cabbage is still mostly grown in open fields. This exposes it to supra-optimal solar radiation of the tropics, low moisture conditions and thermal conditions fluctuations which results in poor performance of the crop (Adger 2006). Climate variability has been reported as erratic weather forms that will result to more risky weather parameters such as drought, heat waves, floods and forceful storms in the decades to come (Oxfam 2008). The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC 2013) report, and IPCC special report on land (2019) concludes that sub-Saharan is one of the most affected continents due to its high exposure, vulnerability and low adaptive capacity (Yaro 2016). Even though sub-Saharan Africa contributes a trivial proportion of global emissions, with future projections suggesting that it will continue to remain low (Collier 2008). Sylla et al (2016) have also projected incessant and tougher warming of between 1.5 and 6.5oc and a brother range of uncertainty in precipitation. This implies vegetable farmers, particularly cabbage farmers have to adapt to ensure sustainability of their lively hood. Climate impact challenges cabbage farmers productivity at the end of the end of the production season. Subsequently imposing socio-economic hardship and threatening their livelihood (Okeleye 2016). Climate variability generates difficulties and leads to severe losses and adversities on farming due to the sensitivity of their livelihood to adverse weather conditions such changes negatively affects cabbage productivity and leads to greater variability to yields (Okeleye 2016). Low economic returns, affect cabbage farmers socio-economic status due to the relatively higher level of awareness of climate variability and change among cabbage farmers in the SSA (Ndamani, 2015). Climate in sub-Saharan Africa where agriculture is an important economic sector is highly variable across geographical zones. This is because agricultural production systems in this region are largely rain-fed and therefore susceptible to the vagaries of changing weather conditions (Nelson et al. 2010). Climate variability in Sub Sahara Africa have adverse effects on agriculture, food security and economic advancement, especially as smallholder farmers are experiencing increased climatic variability and change. Vegetable production environment in the tropics is a blend of varied conditions of season and region (Deuter 2014). The SSA have indicated expectations of extreme events and changes in precipitation and temperature (NCEA 2015 and Fitzmaurice 2014). 4.1 MT of vegetable (cabbage) was produce in the Sub Sahara Africa in 2013. cabbage production faces several problems, biotic problems including insect pests, diseases and weeds, and abiotic problems such as drought, floods, and low soil fertility (Janice et al., 2008). Cabbage production depends to a great extent on climatic variability leading to marked seasonal variations in supply. The high added economic value of cabbage production, the high labor requirements, and the small cultivated area have favored the artificialization of the cabbage cropping systems to reduce the impacts of biotic and abiotic limiting factors and thereby stabilize the level of production (FAO 2013).
Vegetable (Cabbage) primary production for Cameroon in 2021 was 2.84 million tons. Cabbage primary production of Cameroon increased from 331,500 tons in 1972 to 2.84 million tons in 2021 growing at an average annual rate of 4.72%. (Khoema, 2023). In developing countries, particularly in Cameroon, agriculture employs about 70% of the country’s population and production systems are also largely weather-sensitive making them vulnerable to climate as well (Apata 2011). Agriculture is driven by smallholders who account for more than 80% of agricultural production (Mubiru 2010). Vegetable farming is the backbone of the economy and depends on rainfall, and also a sector prone to the risks of climate variation (Adhikari et al. 2015). the agricultural systems dynamics, including ability to adjust to the changes affecting farmers and the broader industry (Spaldon et al. 2015). Cabbage farming which rely mostly on rainfall and relatively cold temperatures has been in difficulties with the current changes in the climate system especially the high variation in temperatures and rainfall patterns in the cultivation areas. cabbage farmers have over the years complaint about the difficulties they faced in cultivating cabbage with different changes observed notably that of high variation in weather. These has thus affected production and livelihoods of cabbage farmers as they depend on it for a living. Vegetables crop particularly cabbage in Cameroon is still grown by some 200,000 farmers, mostly small holders, with the majority being women (Fontem, 2004).
cabbage farming has a long history of cultivation in Cameroon, production remain sun satisfactorily low and research on this activity in Cameroon has focused more on the agronomic, technical efficiencies, physical and socio-economic challenges. (Chiankem, 2020).
The government of Cameroon has laid emphasis on agriculture as one of the pillars for an emerging country. Low-income farmers account for most of the staple food that feeds the country. Cameroon which is considered a major food producer just like many others in Africa is today seen as a net food importer (about 25% of total imports), whereas she like many others in Africa were rather substantial net food exporter in the 1960s and 1970s (Bello, 2009). A very significant proportion of the national food production by these farmers is also sold to the neighboring countries. (Tingem, 2008). Cameroon is naturally endowed with a rich ecological system with enormous natural resources as earlier mentioned, characterized by highly fertile soils and distinctive topography (relatively hilly, undulating, and low-lying slopes) favorable for agriculture. (Devèze, 2011). The distinctiveness of the topography highly influences the weather and climate in the different regions of the country especially the western highlands with a mountainous topography and one of the highest elevations with a relatively cold climate in the country favoring the cultivation of market gardening vegetable crops like Irish potato, leaks, carrot, tomatoes, cabbages, etc. Cabbage farming, particularly small-scale ‘Cabbage farming, which is the focus of this study, has not been left out by the impacts of climate variability due to its susceptibility and vulnerability to the environment. ‘Vegetable crops constitutes the world’s fourth-largest food crop, (Mengui et al., 2019). Cabbage farming in Cameroon is mostly small scale and done by small scale farmers.
The changes and projected changes in the climate system with associated disastrous impacts on agricultural production in the world, Africa, Cameroon and Buea in particular precipitates not only the need for a reduction in the emission of GHG but the need for total adaptation by cabbage farmers. The losses imposed by climate variability on cabbage production are enormous thus, the need for adaptation is not only a major concern in Buea but also to many parts of the world. The adaptation of cabbage farmers however depends on their experience, and knowledge of climate variability impacts. In the Buea Municipality, its susceptibility to climate variability warrants this research to assessing the adaptation of cabbage farmers to climate variability. How then has climate change affected cabbage farming, how do these farmers perceive and respond to these changes. This research, therefore, intends to investigate an assessment of cabbage farmers adaptation to climate variability.
1.2 Statement of The Problem
Fluctuation in daily mean, minimum and maximum temperature is the primary effect of climate variability in the Buea municipality that unfavorably affects cabbage production. Since many vegetables physiological, biochemical and metabolic activities are temperature dependent. Outer leaves of cabbage show bleach, peppery appearance and damaged leaves which are more susceptible to decay. Changes also in carbon dioxide concentrate in the atmosphere utters vegetable crop tissue such as cabbage in terms of growth and physiological behavior. Carbon dioxide utters net photosynthesis, biomass production, protein, sugar and organic acid contents, stomatal conductance, firmness, seed yields, light, water and nutrient use efficiency of cabbage. In cabbage plant, carbon dioxide increases sugar flavonoids and caffeic acids derivatives and also leads to higher vitamin C. The overall effects of these extreme climatic events are the reduction of cabbage growth which adversely affects the yield of cabbage, as it is very sensitive to temperature and rainfall variation. Increasing temperature (heat), drought, cold and salinity are the major abiotic stresses that induce severe cellular damage in wild and domesticated plant species and they considered as a result of climate variability. Despite the precarious effect of climate variability on cabbage production, farmers have employed some adaptations to minimize production, hence increase output.
1.3 Research Questions
1.3.1 Main Research Question
What is the assessment of cabbage farmers adaption to climate variability in the Buea municipality?
1.3.2 Specific Research Question
How has climate varied within the Buea municipality?
How is cabbage produced within the Buea municipality?
What is the impact of climate variability on cabbage production?
How have farmers adapted to the effects of climate variability?
1.4 Research Objectives
1.4.1 Main Research Objective
The study seeks to examine an assessment of cabbage farmers adaptation to climate variability in the Buea municipality.
1.4.2 Specific Research Objective
To examine climate variability within the Buea municipality.
To evaluate cabbage production in the Buea municipality.
To determine the impact of climate variability on cabbage production in the Buea municipality
To examine the adaptation strategies employed by the farmers.