Climate Change Effects on Agriculture in Arochukwu

by Caroline Vurlumis

The increasing amount of greenhouse gas emissions significantly impacts agricultural production. As the climate changes, farming seasons become ambiguous, there is rainfall change, extreme weather, and increasing disease; all of these factors can lead to crop failure. By 2100 it is predicted that Nigeria may lose up to 4% of its Gross Domestic Product in agriculture. In order to assess climate change and adaptive measures on crop production in the Arochukwu Local Government Area of Abia State Nigeria, Foster (2013) took a random sampling of 120 farmers. He gave each participant a survey, collecting data on socio-economic status, awareness of climate change, effects of climate change on agricultural products and adaptation. Foster hypothesized that there would be “no significant relationship between the socio-economic characteristics of the farmers and climatic factors affecting crop output.” His study found that climate change had a positive impact on most food crops and a negative effect on agroforestry practices. Additionally, farming experience, education and size of the farm had a positive relationship to crop output while age and rainfall had a negative relationship to output.

Foster’s study was executed in the Arochukwu Local Government Area of Abia State Nigera, which is in a tropical zone with an annual rainy and dry season. Foster took a simple random sampling of farmers in 19 blocks of the study area. Eight blocks were selected for the study from which 15 farmers were randomly chosen for a total of 120 participants. Foster administered a pre-tested questionnaire to each of the farmers inquiring about socio-economic characteristics, awareness of climate change, impacts on agricultural products, and adaptation measures employed. During analysis, frequency counts and percentages were applied to descriptive statistics and a simple linear regression to inferential statistics.

In this study the majority (54%) of the participants were female and 35% were between the ages of 20–30. A majority had secondary education (67%), a household size between 6–10 (45%) and were married (57%). For farmers, a majority (38.3%) had a farm between: .51–1 hectares and 11–15 years of farming experience (30.3%). These results indicate that more female-headed households had a farm and a majority of the farmers were literate with the capability to observe and adapt to climate change. In addition, most households had a good number of laborers and were small-scale farmers with a lot of experience. When asked about climate change participants responded that heavy rainfall, temperature increase and erosion were the factors that were prominently noticed; 26.7% observed climate change 6–7 years ago while a minority (15%) only noticed change 2–3 years ago.

To assess the effects of the climate on agricultural production, Foster asked about specific products in three different categories (food crop, livestock and agroforestry). The results showed that climate change had a positive effect on yam, cassava, vegetables, and sweet potato while having a negative effect on food crop labeled “others.” Furthermore, there were positive impacts on sheep and poultry but a reported negative effect on pigs, cattle, and rabbits. Unfortunately, climate change had purely negative impacts on all the variables listed in the agroforestry category (snailery, aquaculture, agriculture, mushrooms, and forage). In order to adapt to consequences of climate change 12.9% of farmers reported engaging in mixed cropping, 11.9% in mono cropping and 10.7% in mulching.

The results of the statistical analysis of both the descriptive and inferential data disproved the author’s hypothesis that there is no connection between socio-economic characteristics of participants and climatic factors affecting output. The study found that the greater the age, the lesser the crop output. Higher education led to a more effective output. For farming variables the more experience a farmer had, the greater the output, and a larger farm led to a more productive yield. It is recommended that farmers try more adaptation measures in order to mitigate the impacts of climate change on agricultural production.

Foster, Alfonso., 2013. Assessment of the Effects of Climate Change and Its AdaptationMeasures on Agricultural Production. European Journal of Climate Change 10.1, 1–8.

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