1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Agriculture is a major sector of the Nigerian economy, providing employment for about 70% of the population. The agricultural sector is the mainstay of the economy though her development funds at present derive more from Petroleum oil and Gas exploration (Ifeanyi-obi et al., 2012). It is the principal source of food and livelihood especially in rural areas.
Agriculture in Nigeria as in most other developing countries is dominated by small scale farmers (Oladeebo, 2004). Small holder farmers constitute 80% of the farming population in the country (Awoke and Okorji, 2004). These farmers produce on subsistence level with the objectives of satisfying household food needs and little surplus for sale (Awoke et al., 2004).
Although the agricultural sector is being transformed by commercialization at the small, medium and large scale enterprise levels, the country is still faced with a number of constraints. According to International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) (2008), the constraints include poor agricultural pricing and low fertilizer use, low access to agricultural credit, land tenure insecurity and land degradation, poverty and gender issues, low and unstable investment in agricultural research as well as poor market access and marketing efficiency. In addition to these, climate and weather parameters have consistently been changing.
Climate refers to the average or typical weather conditions observed over a long period of time (usually over 30 years) for a give area (Spencer, 2009). The classical period is 30 years as defined by the World Metrological Organization (WMO). Climate encompasses the statistics of temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, wind, precipitation, atmospheric partial count and other metrological elemental measurement in a given region. On the other hand, climate change is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over period ranging from decades to million of years (Wikipedia, 2010).
Climate change and Agriculture are inter-related processes, both of which take place on a global scale. Global warming is projected to have significant impacts on conditions affecting Agriculture. These conditions include temperature, carbon dioxide, glacial run off, precipitation and their interactions are of significant importance. These changes in climate have had negative effects on agriculture over the years with arable crops not left out. Between 1996 and 2003, world grain production has stabilized over 1.8 billion tones. From 2000 to 2003, grain stocks have been dropping, resulting in a global grain harvest that was short of consumption by 93 million of tons in 2003 (Wikipedia, 2010). There has also been a reduction in harvest of these crops.
In recent times, farmers have devised several methods and indigenous technologies to mitigate the effect of climate change. In south-western Nigeria, Research have shown various adaptive measures (Apata et al, 2009). The major adaptation technologies and innovators identified include irrigation (Fadama), Afforestation, use of drought tolerant crop varieties and organic practices in form of manuring, mulching and fallowing as well as planting- date adjustment and timely harvesting of crops. However, these measures are not free of constraint. The constraints observed included lack of finance, low level of awareness about climate change, low level of technology, high illiteracy level and difficulty in getting accurate result (Apata et al., 2009).
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
It has been predicted that the resultant increase in temperature due to climate change will accelerate physiological development resulting in hastened maturation and reduced yield (FAO, 2005). It is also a well known fact that the occurrence of moisture stress resulting from drought, during flowing, pollination and grain filling is harmful to most arable crops. Growing seasons are expected to become shorter as temperature increases e.g rice yield starts decreasing at over 340c. It has also been noted that food production in Africa could half by 2020 (IPCC, 2007). Furthermore, extreme weather events (climate change) such as thunder storm, flood, heavy rainfall and heavy wind are detrimental to agricultural activities in crops, livestock and humans. These often lead to failure of crops and incidence of pests and diseases due to migration in response to climate change and variation.
Nigeria is an Agrarian Economy with 75% small farmers accounting for the nation’s agricultural output (Bello, 2009). There are about 200,000 largely peasant farm families in Edo State who produce 80% of the crops consumed (www.edostate.gov.ng/commercialagriculture). Most of these farmers depend solely on the natural weather conditions for production and therefore need effective adaptive and mitigating measures to cope with these changes. The Edo state ADP and intervention programmes like National Fadama Development Project (NFDP), National Programme for Food Security (NPFS) and NGOs are in place to deliver extension services to farmers in all aspects of agriculture. However, it could not be categorically stated that they disseminate climate change adaptation and mitigation practices/information to farmers particularly on arable crops. Farmers have been using various measures over the years as coping strategies which are either indigenous or improved. It is in this light that the study investigated the climate change mitigation practices among arable crop farmers in Edo Central Zone, Edo state by answering the following questions:
What are the socio-economic characteristics of arable crop farmers in the study area?
Are the farmers aware of climate change issues?
In what ways is arable crop production affected by climate change?
What is the extent of usage and effectiveness of the mitigating and adaptive measures employed by the farmers?
What are the challenges faced in using these measures?
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF STUDY
The general objective of the study was to assess climate change mitigation practices among arable crop farmers in the study area. The specific objectives of the study were to:
Examine the socio-economic characteristics of arable crop farmers in the study area;
Assess farmers awareness of climate change issues;
Examine the effect of climate change on arable crop production;
Examine the adaptive and mitigating measures used by the farmers, how often they are used and how effective they are;
Identify the constraints to the use of these measures
1.4 JUSTIFICATION OF STUDY
The importance of agricultural sector of any economy cannot be over-emphasized as food security is a major issue in developing the economy of any Nation. Food security helps to promote self-sufficiency, healthy and efficient labour force. Considering the large percentage of individuals involved in agriculture in the country, the effect of climate change on the sector which serves as a means of livelihood and source of foreign exchange, cannot be over looked. The effects of climate change requires efficient adaptive and mitigating measures. This study will shed light on climate change mitigating practices used by arable crop farmers in the study area. The study also aims at exposing the constraints to the use of these measures in the study area. Furthermore, it is hoped that the result of the study will help the Edo state Government to formulate policies that will help farmers with efficient adaptive measures and improve arable crop production in general. It is also expected that the result of the study will help the Federal Government formulate climate change policies for different agro-ecological zones of the country.
1.5 STATEMENT OF HYPOTHESES
There is no significant relationship between respondents socio-economic characteristics and awareness of climate change issues
There is no significant relationship between respondent socio-economic characteristics and the perceived effect of climate change
There is no significant difference between male and female respondents with respect to the perceived effect of climate change.
There is no significant relationship between respondents socio-economic characteristics and the perceived effectiveness of climate change mitigation and adaptation practices.