BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Climate change is one of the greatest contemporary environmental challenges and is global in dimension. The rising incidences of extreme climatic events associated with climate change are giving the greatest of the concerns. Even for skeptics, events such as prolonged dry seasons, long rainfall durations and excessively long Harmattan periods are worrying. More and more people are getting to ask about what can be done to minimize the impact of the change.
The Inter-government Panel on climate change (IPPC, 2007) defined climate change as statistically significant variations in climate that persist for an extended period, typically decades or longer. It includes shifts in the frequency and magnitude of sporadic weather events as well as the slow continuous rise in global mean surface temperature.
Climate change is a change in climate that is attributable directly or indirectly to human activities. It affects the atmospheric conditions of the earth thereby leading to global warming. According to Raymond and Victoria (2008), climate change has the potential to affect all natural systems thereby becoming a threat to human development and survival socially, politically and economically. Interest in this issue has motivated a substantial body of research on climate cha- nge and agriculture over the past decade (Fischer, et al., 2002; Darwin, 2004; Lobell, et al., 2008; Nelson, et al. 2009). Climate change is expected to influence crop production, hydrologic balances, input supplies and other components of agricultural systems. However, the changes occur due to variation in different climatic parameters such as cloud cover, precipitation, temperature and increase in Green House Gases (GHG’s) emission through human activities. Adverse impacts of climate change in Nigeria include frequent drought, increased rural-urban migration, increased biodiversity loss, depletion of wild and other natural resource base, changes in vegetation types, increased health risk and the spread of infectious diseases and changing livelihood systems (Abaje and Giwa, 2007; Hassan and Nhemachena, 2008).
Of Nigeria’s 923,768km2 land size, 34% is occupied by crops, 23% by grassland and 16% by forests, approximately 13% is rivers, lakes and reservoirs, and the remaining 14% fall under other uses according to Ajayi (2009). Also, small scale farm holdings predominate in Nigeria, accounting for about 94% of the agricultural output (Ajayi, 2009). Agriculture employs over 70% of the population, contributes about 41% of GDP, accounts for 5% total export and provides 88% of non-oil earnings. Besides, almost all sectors of agriculture which are crop production, livestock farming, pastoralism, fishery etc. depend on climate whose variability have meant that local farmers who implement their regular annual farm business plans risk total failure due to climate change effects (Ozor et al, 2010). The conditions emanating from climate change are bound to compromise agricultural productions (crop, livestock, forest and fishery resources), nutritional and health statuses, trading in agricultural commodities, human settlements especially of agricultural communities, tourism and recreation among others (Tologbonse, et al. 2010) Nigeria like all the countries of sub-Saharan Africa is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change (IPCC, 2007). Despite the fact that efforts have been made towards fighting climate change from scientific views, research and policies directed towards indigenous knowledge and perception are highly needed. Understanding of local perception is useful in assessing the true implications of changing climate. Therefore there is the need to gain as much information as possible, and learn the positions of rural farmers and their needs, about what they know about climate change, in order to offer adaptation practices that meet these needs.
Climate change is a major challenge to agricultural development in Africa and the world at large. Ziervogel, et al. 2006 noted that climate change, which is attributable to natural climate cycle and human activities, has adversely affected agricultural productivity in Africa, making Agriculture one of the sectors most vulnerable to climate change impact in Africa, as observed by Falaki et al 2013, the impact of climate is more where agriculture is rain fed and essential for the daily existence such in Nigeria.Zoellick 2009 stated that, as the planet warms, rainfall patterns shift, and extreme events such as drought, floods and forest fires become more frequent. This results in poor and unpredictable yields, thereby making farmers more vulnerable, particularly in Africa (UNFCCC, 2007). Across Nigeria, millions of people are already experiencing changing seasonal patterns of rainfall and increased heat. Climate therefore determines to a large extent availability of water which impacts health and ultimately the level of poverty among Nigerians. 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.