RICE FARMERS PERCEPTION OF CLIMATE CHANGE AND ADAPTATION STRATEGIES IN THE NDOP PLAIN OF CAMEROON
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Endowed with a rich bioclimatic environment and favourable for rice farming, paradoxically, climate change has had a toll on the cultivation of rice in the Ndop Plain of Cameroon thereby motivating the research on the topic “Rice farmers perception of climate change and adaptations strategies in the Ndop Plain of Cameroon”.This research investigates the perception of rice farmers on the impact of climate change on rice farming in the Ndop Plain. It also looks at the adaptation measures taken by the rice farmers to mitigate the impacts of climate change on their livelihood activity. In order to realize these objectives, farmer’s perception and understanding of climate change and adaptation measures was sought. Quantitative and qualitative approaches were primordial in the analysis of farmer’s perception; frequencies and regressions were used to determine the correlation between climate change and rice farming. This was to understand the perception of the farmers about the impact of climate change on rice farming. Questionnaires were randomly administered to farmers in Upper Bamunka, Lower Bamunka and Babungo rice communities. From the data analysis, the major results revealed that 75% of the populationare aware of climate change and accept there is an impact it has on rice farming. These impacts included unpredictable rainfall patters, temperature fluctuations and plant diseases. A person correlation coefficient of 0.001 also validated this relationship between climate change and rice farming. Therefore, rice farmers have taken adaptation measures such as changing planting dates, using improved rice seedlings and using irrigation to increase water supply. However, farmers face difficulties such as land tenure, financial and technical knowhow. It is therefore imperative to improve on rice farming so as to ensure food security not just for the household by the nation at large.
Key words: Climate Change, Rice Farming, Adaptation, Ndop Plain.
Climate change and weather patterns changes are already being experienced as it is evident in severe impacts on food production, food security and natural resources all over the globe (Defang et al., 2017). Without the appropriate responses, climate change is likely to constrain economic development and poverty reduction efforts and exacerbate already pressing difficulties especially in countries whose economies are rooted in climate sensitive sectors such as agriculture. For instance, Taderera (2010) reported that South African awareness of climate change was literally interpreted as “changing weather” and this may influence the extent of adaptation. According to IPCC (2014) adaptation is widely recognized as a vital component of any policy response to climate change.
Perceptions are influenced not only by actual conditions and changes, but are also influenced by other factors. A study by Gbetibouo (2009) found that having fertile soil and access to water for irrigation decrease the likelihood that farmers will perceive climate change; however, education, experience, access to extension services increase the likelihood that farmers perceived climate change. According to Dai, Aiguo, Kevin, Trenberth, and Taotao (2004), &Trenberthet al., (2007), many developing countries have already experienced weather events in terms of floods, droughts, heat waves and tropical cyclones that are more frequent or intense than previous experiences and the resulting impacts point to the consequences on the environment, production system and livelihoods from future climate variability and change, hence to minimize the impacts of climate change requires a knowledge of the perception and adaptation of climate change strategies to deal with the phenomenon.
According to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (2001) adaptation to the adverse consequences of climate change could be viewed from two distinct perspectives; the awareness of the risks of climate change and the capacity to adapt to climate change and how adaptation can be carefully planned and implemented to avoid the possibility of mal-adaptation. In effect, adaptation is a way of reducing vulnerability, increasing resilience, moderating the risk of climate impacts on lives and livelihoods and taking advantage of opportunities posed by actual or expected climate change Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO, 2009).
Ministry of the Environment and Nature Protection (MINEP) (2014) stated that adaptation in agriculture occurs at two main scales: household-level (micro) and national level (macro). Micro-level analysis of adaptation in agriculture focuses on tactical decisions that farmers make in response to seasonal variations in climatic, economic and other factors. These micro-level tactical decisions of households in agriculture include using different adaptation options (Temesgen, et al 2008). On the other hand, national level or macro-level analysis is concerned with agricultural production at the national and regional scales and its relationships with domestic and international policy (Bradshaw, et al 2007).
Agriculture in the economy of Cameroon plays an important role in economic growth, enhancing food security, poverty reduction and rural development. It is the main source of income for around 2.5 billion people in the developing world (FAO, 2003). Climate change is a serious problem worldwide as it affects agriculture. The IPCC (2014) report found out that the climate change challenges composed of the likely impacts on ecosystem services, agricultural production, and livelihoods. Generally, losses in the agriculture sector due to climate change has economy wide consequences, like loss in gross domestic output, a decline in the income/consumption of the most vulnerable population; hence, a general deterioration in households’ welfare (FAO, 2009).
Climate change is likely to pose a serious threat on environment, agricultural production and food security of most developing countries including Cameroon but it is still not considered a priority environmental issue especially in the developed countries (Leiserowitz, et al 2005; Leiserowitz, 2006; Pew, 2013). In particular, rural farmers, whose livelihoods depend on the use of natural resources, are likely to bear the brunt of adverse consequences. This is largely because most developing countries experience high incidence poverty and as a result are incapable to adapt to climate change. However, the extent of impact of climate change on agriculture can be ameliorated by the perception and level of adaption of farmers (Taderera, 2010).
Cameroon, like many other African countries, faces enormous social, economic and environmental challenges that are likely to be exacerbated by the impacts of climate change (Defang et al., 2014). At both the individual and the national levels, climate change is serious concern because of the nation’s overdependence on climate-sensitive sectors, such as agriculture, fisheries, wildlife resources and hydro-power generation (Lambi, 1999).
Projections indicate that temperature will continue to rise and the survival of coastal communities will be threatened by rising sea level (Tsalefacet al., 2008). Reduction in rainfall is already impacting on rain-fed agriculture and hydro-power generation, causing significant decreases in industrial production. The rural poor are forced to adopt non-sustainable measures such as migration, farming and building in flood plains. These in turn increase their vulnerability and make the fight against poverty increasingly difficult. Presently, some of the challenges facing Cameroon are the inadequate climate science professionals and institutional capacities to contribute effectively to Cameroon’s ability to adapt to the climate change phenomenon, (Innocent, 2016).
Rice is very sensitive to climatic, environmental and soil conditions Abdulai& Huffman (2000). Changes in these climatic factors are expected to affect rice yield adversely. Rice is amongst the most important cereal after maize in Cameroon and is fast becoming a cash crop for many farmers (UNVDA, 2015). Hence, the need to meet the demand for local rice has become a major concern with the current increase in rice consumption in the country. Though there has been an increase in the production of local rice, this has not met domestic demand (MINADER, 2012). The importations of rice continue to increases considerably year after year. The local rice has contributed much to Cameroons’s capability in achieving food security even though most urban dwellers consume imported rice.
Cameroon’s economy can be best described as agrarian, the Cameroonian economy depends on agriculture which accounts for about 27% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), employs 70% of the active population and generates more than half of total export earnings (Jazaet al., 2015). Although this high percentage of the national workforce is engaged in farming, they do not produce sufficient food to feed the ever increasing populace. This is because agriculture is predominantly rain fed, and exposes agricultural production to the effects of present climate variability and the risks of future climate change (Tsalefacet al., 2008).
The production of rice accounts for about 11 % of agricultural output and 40 % of the total land area used in cereal grains production in Cameroon (Milling III,2009). In the production of rice, farmers mostly make use of irrigation, rain-fed lowland system and so years of extensive drought, has decreased the production of rice in the country. Cameroon’s Ministry of Environment, Nature Protection and Sustainable Development (MINEP), together with international partners stated that with expected rise in temperature and decline in rainfall in the years 2030, 2050 and 2080 it is believed that rice production in these years will steeply decline (UNVDA, 2015).
Agriculture is affected by climate change, especially by decreasing precipitation and increasing temperature and these reduce agricultural production (Defang et al., 2017). Rice farmers in the Ndop plain are not immured against the effects of climate change. Since most of the population of the division derive their livelihood from agricultural activities, hence changes in the climate is of great concern to their agricultural production activities in the division.
Although the issue of climate change and agriculture is not a recent development, there has been little or no efforts aimed at scientifically documenting the existing climate change situation among rice farmers in the Ndop plain of Cameroon, with regards to the various indigenous innovative technologies and adaptation measures to combat the negative effects of climate change.
Furthermore, climate change effects on rice yields have not been met with sustainable adaptation measures. Most farmers in the Ndop Plain are small holder farmers. This has affected their adaptation strategies given the small nature of their farms and the fact that they are peasants. Some of these adaptation measures are expensive to implement and not accessible some times. This had posed a huge problem on the lives of the inhabitants and their families.
Despite the importance of perceptions and adaptation strategies to climate change, very few studies have examined farmers’ perceptions and adaptation strategies to climate change and its effects on other crops grown in the Ndop plain .In this light, the central focus of this present study is to analyze rice farmer’s perception of climate change and their adaptation strategies in the Ndop Plain of Cameroon.
To guide this research, the following research questions have been formulated. This will go a long way to give clear views and better understanding of the research.
- How do rice farmers’ perceive changes in precipitation and temperature pattern?
- What are the choices of adaptation measures to climate change impacts?
- What are the determinants of rice farmers’ adaptation strategies to climate change?
- What are the barriers to rice farmers’ adaptation measures in response to climate change challenges?
The main objective of the study is to analyse rice farmers perception of climate change and adaptation strategies in the Ndop Plain while looking at the adaptations measures put in place.
- Examine rice farmers’ perception of precipitation and temperature pattern in the study area.
- Identify rice farmers’ choice of adaptation measures in response to climate change impacts.
- Ascertain the determinants of rice farmers’ adaptation strategies to climate change.
- Identify barriers to rice farmers’ adaptation measures in response to climate change challenges.
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