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  • View in gallery

    (a),(b) Locational and (c) altitudinal information of Ondo State; (b) and (c) also show the regional distribution used in this study as well as the distribution of the meteorological monitoring stations.

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    Typical rainfall and temperature patterns in Ondo State, Nigeria: (a) the average for 1980–2013 and (b)–(f) regional distributions of average monthly variables plotted with 1996–2013 dataset.

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    Temporal variations in (a) minimum and (b) maximum temperature at the Nigerian Meteorological Station at Akure, the state capital from 1980 to 2012.

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    Temporal variations in (a) minimum and (b) maximum temperatures over the meteorological stations in Ondo State, Nigeria between 1996 and 2013.

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    Temporal variations in rainfall in Ondo State, Nigeria: (a) temporal variations from the NIMET station at Akure, the state capital; (b) rainfall trends (significant at p ≤ 0.05) at different meteorological stations at different local government areas in the state between 1996 and 2013; and (c) annual monthly box plots with extreme years marked for rainfall and temperature from the NIMET data of Akure.

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    Perception of selected farmers on changes in (a) rainfall and (b) temperature in the three regions (north, south, central) of Ondo State.

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    (top) Methods of coping with extreme weather and climate events by small-scale farmers in Ondo State, Nigeria. (bottom) Types of farm support by the government. See text for details.

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Climate Events and Impact on Cropping Activities of Small-Scale Farmers in a Part of Southwest Nigeria

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  • 1 Department of Geography, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria
  • | 2 Institute of Ecology and Environmental Studies, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria
  • | 3 Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Ondo State, Nigeria
  • | 4 Institute of Ecology and Environmental Studies, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria
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Abstract

The study examined the variations of selected climatic variables (rainfall and temperature) and the perceptions of small-scale farmers on the effects of extreme climate condition on cropping activities in the rain forest ecological region in southwest Nigeria. The area is characterized by three different subecological strata (the mountainous Akoko region in the north, the southern coastal area, and the middle, relatively lowland and more urbanized area) whose effects on the climate are made explicit in the relatively different values of the climate variables. Analysis of the responses to questions on perceptions of extreme climate effects indicated that about 70% of the farmers were aware of the effects of extreme climate events on crop production and yield, and over 50% indicated that too early rainfall, late rainfall, prolonged dryness after an initial rainfall, excessive rainfall, and windstorms were the common weather-related causes of low crop yields. More than 76% of the farmers changed planting dates and diversified their crops as mitigation measures, while about 72% adopted mulching and intercropping as adaptation strategies against extreme weather conditions. Only less than 20% had access to government support facilities and modern infrastructure. The study concluded that although the farmers respond to variable and extreme climate events in the study area, the responses, being not adequately supported by adequate farming infrastructure, do not guarantee sustainable food security in the region.

© 2017 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author e-mail: Adebayo Oluwole Eludoyin, oaeludoyin@yahoo.com

Abstract

The study examined the variations of selected climatic variables (rainfall and temperature) and the perceptions of small-scale farmers on the effects of extreme climate condition on cropping activities in the rain forest ecological region in southwest Nigeria. The area is characterized by three different subecological strata (the mountainous Akoko region in the north, the southern coastal area, and the middle, relatively lowland and more urbanized area) whose effects on the climate are made explicit in the relatively different values of the climate variables. Analysis of the responses to questions on perceptions of extreme climate effects indicated that about 70% of the farmers were aware of the effects of extreme climate events on crop production and yield, and over 50% indicated that too early rainfall, late rainfall, prolonged dryness after an initial rainfall, excessive rainfall, and windstorms were the common weather-related causes of low crop yields. More than 76% of the farmers changed planting dates and diversified their crops as mitigation measures, while about 72% adopted mulching and intercropping as adaptation strategies against extreme weather conditions. Only less than 20% had access to government support facilities and modern infrastructure. The study concluded that although the farmers respond to variable and extreme climate events in the study area, the responses, being not adequately supported by adequate farming infrastructure, do not guarantee sustainable food security in the region.

© 2017 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author e-mail: Adebayo Oluwole Eludoyin, oaeludoyin@yahoo.com

1. Introduction

a. Background

One of the more frequently applied indices of the level of development of a country is the status of its food security (Adejuwon 2006). The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (FAO 1996) defined food security as when all the people at all times have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preference for active and healthy lives. Increase in population, rural–urban migration, inadequate finance, low technology, extreme climatic events, and variability are some of the factors that influence agricultural productivity in many developing countries, and these factors often cause low yield in crop production (FAO 1996).

In Africa, and particularly in Nigeria, where climate and weather are important factors of crop and animal production, the effect of extreme weather or climate can be significant. This is so important because agriculture is an important sector in many African countries where it provides employment for more than 80% of the population. Agricultural activities in developing countries are mainly small in scale when compared to developed countries. Small-scale farmers are those that often cultivate less than two hectares of land, earn less than a dollar a day, and are among the most vulnerable to climate change (World Bank 1996). The majority of the farmers in Africa are small-scale farmers who have small holdings ranging from 0.5 to 2 ha and produce food for their household plus little for the local market (Aina 2007).

Small-scale farmers in Nigeria are classified as resource poor due to the poor resources available to them, especially capital. This causes low productivity as they produce purely for subsistence consumption and little marketable surplus (Adeniyi and Adesina 2014). Studies have shown that over 90% of the farming population in Nigeria is small-scale farmers who produce as much as 85% of the total food requirements of the citizens (Afolabi 2010; Tessema et al. 2013; Afolabi 2010). The importance of small-scale farming in Nigeria cannot be overemphasized as it not only provides employment for its teeming population, especially among the rural dwellers, but it also plays a central role in providing raw material for local industries and enhances food security in the country. To sustain their means of livelihood, this group of farmers needs to produce a stable quality of food to earn better income. To achieve this, they need access to good quality inputs, accessible land, good quality soil, capital, modern infrastructure, functioning market system, and predictable climate/weather conditions. However, the production capacity of small-scale farmers in Nigeria is highly limited by both socioeconomic and climatic factors. Crop productions in Nigeria are largely affected by climate conditions because about 90% of the agricultural activities are rain fed. Climate affects every aspect of plant growth and yield; climate extremes induce a significant alteration in crop productivity (Sivakumar et al. 2005).

Extreme climatic events are a major condition that limits agricultural production in rain-fed farming systems. There is also growing evidence that anthropogenic climate change might be modifying the frequency and severity of these events (Boko et al. 2007). Extreme climate conditions are a deviation from the norms and are capable of causing upsets in many important environmental parameters including disruption of water balance and air temperature balance (Odekunle 2004). Extreme climatic conditions may be short-lived but they can significantly impact the environmental and agricultural processes. Extreme climate conditions include, among others, heavy downpours with a short period of dry spells within growing seasons when certain crops require moisture to be available at field capacity or heavy rains at times when crops require a dry spell (Maracchi et al. 2005). Effects of extreme climate include delay in onset and retreat of rainfall and change in temperature to below or above the value accepted as normal for specific periods of the year (Odekunle 2004). Studies exist on the regional distribution of rainfall and temperature over southwest Nigeria and major ecoclimate regions in Nigeria (Adejuwon 2006; Awotoye and Matthew 2010). The majority of studies have revealed temporal fluctuations and spatial variations and often base their conclusions on secondary data, and only a few have involved the perception of small-scale farmers on the effects of climate on agricultural products.

Recent studies from many parts of Africa (e.g., Deressa et al. 2009; Rao et al. 2011; Below et al. 2015; Chichongue et al. 2015) have shown that farmers’ perceptions of climate risk and adaptation are important for the advancement of useful agricultural policy for food security. Different adaptation strategies have been employed by farmers to cope with the effects of climate extremes on crop production, and some of these are being documented in a National Adaptation Plan for Action (NAPA) for the promotion of community best practices for collaborative natural resources management agricultural sectors in line with the recommendations of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC; UNFCCC 2007).

In Nigeria, a number of studies exist that have examined the importance of climate variability to living conditions through the use of biometeorological indices (Ayoade 1978; Omonijo and Matzarakis 2011; Eludoyin and Adelekan 2013; Eludoyin et al. 2014; Eludoyin 2015) and agriculture (Adejuwon and Odekunle 2004; Odekunle et al. 2007). In the present study area, studies (e.g., Apata 2011; Apata et al. 2009; Tunde 2011;Odjugo 2009; Olayemi 2012; Owombo et al. 2014) indicated evidence of increased temperatures and wind speed and decrease in rainfall, as well as strong perception of the residents on the effects of the change in the climate variables on agriculture productivity. Some of the studies (e.g., Apata et al. 2009; Olayemi 2012) also indicated that most farmers respond to change in climate by diversifying farm production (through mixed cropping, mixed farming, early planting, and planting of drought-resistant crops). It is, however, unclear if the responses of the farmers are adequate to ensure food security in the region, especially since large-scale agriculture production is rare (except when it is government owned, which is also not common). Apata (2009, p. 10) described the response to climate events as low, probably because 31% of their subjects either perceived adaptation to climate as “changing from farming to nonfarming activities” or offering “prayers,” or indicated no means of adaptation. In general, there is yet no consensus on the understanding of people’s (particularly rural dwellers and farmers) perception of climate extremes. This study examines climate variations, perception, and adaptation measures of small-scale farmers across Ondo State as typical examples of observation in rain-fed agricultural areas in Nigeria.

b. Aim and objectives

This study aimed at improving the understanding of climate variation and coping strategies under extreme climate conditions among small-scale farmers in southwest Nigeria. Specific objectives of this study were to 1) examine the spatial and temporal variation of climate variables (rainfall and temperature) over Ondo State and 2) examine the perceptions of small-scale farmers on extreme climate conditions, the effects of the conditions, and coping strategies of the farmers.

2. Study area

a. Locational characteristics

Ondo State is located in the southwestern part of Nigeria and lies between latitudes 5°45′ and 7°52′N and longitudes 4°20′ and 6°5′E (Figs. 1a–e). A state is a political sovereign region and a basic administrative unit of study. There are 36 states in Nigeria, and Ondo State is purposely selected for this study as a typical agrarian state in Nigeria and because of its varying ecological zonation (coastal and rainfall forest in the southern and northern parts, respectively) that allows for comparison, probably associated with the varying relief structure (a variation of lowlands in the south from the mountainous north; Dada et al. 2008). The central part is occupied by the administrative capital city, Akure, and other large settlements, including Ondo and Owo, which with Akure have the highest number of government and nongovernment institutions in the state (e.g., Akinbode et al. 2008). The northern and southern parts are comparatively less urbanized than the central part.

Fig. 1.
Fig. 1.

(a),(b) Locational and (c) altitudinal information of Ondo State; (b) and (c) also show the regional distribution used in this study as well as the distribution of the meteorological monitoring stations.

Citation: Weather, Climate, and Society 9, 2; 10.1175/WCAS-D-16-0032.1

The relief of the area comprises lowlands and rugged hills with granitic outcrops in several places; in general, the land rises from the coastal areas (llaje and Ese Odo), whose heights are less than 15 m above the mean sea level (MSL), in the south to the rugged hills in the northeastern portion in the northern (Akoko) part. Hills above 250 m MSL also characterize some interior settlements, including Idanre. Large rivers in the area drain into the Atlantic Ocean, in the south.

The study area lies within the tropical rain forest ecological zone (Mamman et al. 2000) and in the wet and dry climate region of the revised Koppen’s climate classification in Nigeria (Eludoyin et al. 2014). The tropical rain forest has a very small temperature range with a maximum of 28°C in the hottest month and 26°C in its coldest month. Ondo State can be subdivided into the highlands (north), coastal (south), and the middle (or central) regions (Fig. 1). Average monthly rainfall shows seasonal variation pattern, with the wet season occurring between April and October and the dry season occurring between November and March of the following year (Fig. 2a). Mean, maximum, and minimum temperatures, on the other hand, vary inversely with rainfall; temperature values are higher in the dry season than the wet season. Spatial interpolation of the existing climate data shows that while average rainfall has decreased northward, temperature has shown a pattern that reflects local variability. Furthermore, whereas minimum temperature values are higher at the southern and northern parts than the central, the mean and maximum temperature, which varied differently (Figs. 2a–e).

Fig. 2.
Fig. 2.

Typical rainfall and temperature patterns in Ondo State, Nigeria: (a) the average for 1980–2013 and (b)–(f) regional distributions of average monthly variables plotted with 1996–2013 dataset.

Citation: Weather, Climate, and Society 9, 2; 10.1175/WCAS-D-16-0032.1

b. Vegetation, soil, and agricultural practices

Ondo State is vegetated by a mix of the high forest type of varieties of hardwood timber, woody savannah, and anthropogenically derived savannah (from cultivation, lumbering, etc.; Mamman et al. 2000). The vegetation types often reflect the climate of the different parts of the state, except in the urbanized environments. In terms of soil characteristics, soils in Ondo State are generally well-drained, medium-to-fine grained texture soil that have developed from weathering of basement complex rocks, especially in the central and northern part. Soils in the southern parts have generally derived from sedimentary rocks and are prone to flooding during intense rainfall. The soils are generally of the Ondo and Iwo Associations, which are both of high agricultural value, especially for the growth of tree and arable crops (Mamman et al. 2000). The natural vegetation over the study area has been very much degraded due to anthropogenic influences (including agriculture, lumbering, fuel–wood search, and construction activities). Agriculture is the main occupation of most rural dwellers in the area, and this is often practiced at small-scale level and subsistence level. The primary tree and arable crops cultivated include cocoa, palm oil, yam, maize, and cassava.

3. Materials and methods

a. Data

Two sets of data were used for the study. First, 33-yr (1980–2013) monthly records of rainfall and temperature values of the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) station at Akure, the administrative capital of Ondo State, and 17-yr (1996–2013) data for each of the 18 local government areas (LGAs) in the state were used for the study. We could not source daily data for most years and for most of the LGAs, hence the decision to use the available monthly data. The NIMET station and the stations at the LGAs commenced in 1980 and 1996, respectively, and this accounted for their consideration as start dates for this study. The 2013 date was the latest year for which data were available for use when this study commenced. The data were sourced from the Meteorological Agency Office at Oshodi, Lagos State, and the Ondo State Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry Resources in Akure.

Second, a structured questionnaire (appendix A) coupled with in-depth interview was used to elicit information from selected, small-scale farmers in the study area on demography, the types of crop produced, extreme climate awareness, and their effects on their crop production, measures, and methods used in adapting to extreme climate, availability of credit facilities, and on the type and nature of infrastructure available to the farmers. The use of structured questionnaire in social surveys, including perception studies, is not new; it is often used to provide percentage frequency distribution or representative mean votes of responses (Boynton and Greenhalgh 2004; Wheeler et al. 2013). Studies (e.g., Boynton and Greenhalgh 2004; Smoyer et al. 2000) have indicated that responses from structured questionnaires are acceptable to provide valid representativeness of larger population in a community, region, or country. Structured questionnaires also generally allow researchers to organize the responses and provide opportunity for the respondents to respond beyond the provided options. The questionnaire, after it was drafted, using existing knowledge and background information of the study area, was first administered at an adjacent village (Abagbooro) to the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, as a trial prior to the administration at the study area to assess its effectiveness. Corrections were subsequently identified, and the revised questionnaire was thereafter screened during a seminar at the university. A multistage sampling procedure was used to select respondents used for questionnaire administration:

  1. Ondo State was stratified into three regions in order to match the ecological zones: Ondo North, Ondo Central, and Ondo South (each zone has six LGAs). This is, however, not the same as the political division of the state, which is not considered appropriate for a climatic study.
  2. A simple random method was used to select one-third of the LGAs from each zone. In each zone, two LGAs were randomly selected to make a total of six LGAs. Selected LGAs are Okitipupa and Odigbo (in Ondo South), Ondo East and Akure South (in Ondo Central), and Akoko Southwest and Owo (in Ondo North).
  3. One-third of the total political wards in the selected LGAs were randomly selected to make a total of 21 wards.
  4. From the selected wards, 10 full-time farmers were systematically selected from the register list of the Farmers’ Unions, and these made a total of 210 full-time farmers across the state. Consequently, a total of 210 copies (with three additional copies that were included to control for unclear or incomplete questionnaire administration by the field assistants in each ward) of the questionnaire were administered, but only 210 copies were analyzed for the study.

b. Demographic and sociocharacteristics of respondents

About 75.7% of the farmers in the investigated areas were within the age range of 36–55 yr; most of the respondents were married (Table 1). The majority of the farmers were male, and they carried out most of the farming activities while the females (often wives and children), although constituting part of the farm labor, were mainly involved in processing (oil palm) and marketing of the farm outputs; 52.8% of the respondents claimed to have gone through secondary education, and above 70% had lived in the study area for more than 10 yr. More than 50% of the farmers earned about NGN $50,000 (Nigerian Naira, equivalent to about USD $157) annually and had practiced farming for 11–30 yr prior this study. In addition, the gender distribution of the respondents (in Table 1) indicates that the majority of the females were married and had received at least primary education, like the males.

Table 1.

Socioeconomic and demographic characteristics of selected farmers in Ondo State, Nigeria.

Table 1.

c. Data quality assessment

The climate data were assessed for errors including anomalous or incomplete records. The communication gap (language barrier) between the researcher and the respondents was eliminated through the use of interpreters.

d. Data analysis

Rainfall and temperature data were subjected to time series analysis. The location-based values for the climate variables were interpolated using the ordinary kriging approach in the Integrated Land and Water Information System (ILWIS GIS). Responses to the questionnaire were analyzed using percentage distribution and analysis of variance using the Statistical Package for Social Scientists (SPSS) [or Predictive Analytics Software (PASW)] software. The responses are described using percentage frequency distribution. There are many measures of perception assessment, but the two most widely used are the percentage frequency ranking or ranking already response-assigned scores. The scores ranking is, however, efficient when the Likert scale is used in the questionnaire. The questionnaire in this study has been designed for easy administration by trained assistants who were not required to carry out an additional assessment (for the need for balanced, uninfluenced response); hence, the simple frequency percentage ranking was used, as has been found applicable in relevant studies (Alessandro and de Garín 2003; Olayemi 2012; Ibouraïman et al. 2016). Nonetheless, variation in responses based on location (south, central, and north) was assessed with the analysis of variance (ANOVA) statistics.

4. Results

a. General climate characteristics of Ondo State

The general distribution of the temperatures over Akure, the administrative capital, and across the meteorological stations in the local government areas in the state is presented in Figs. 3 and 4. Figures 3a and 3b show a seasonal, dry (November–March) and wet (April–October) dichotomy in the patterns of minimum and maximum temperatures at the administrative capital. Whereas the minimum temperature values were more variable in the dry season than wet season, maximum temperature fluctuated similarly at most months. The maximum temperature values were higher increased from October through December to March but declined from April at the capital (Fig. 3b).

Fig. 3.
Fig. 3.

Temporal variations in (a) minimum and (b) maximum temperature at the Nigerian Meteorological Station at Akure, the state capital from 1980 to 2012.

Citation: Weather, Climate, and Society 9, 2; 10.1175/WCAS-D-16-0032.1

Fig. 4.
Fig. 4.

Temporal variations in (a) minimum and (b) maximum temperatures over the meteorological stations in Ondo State, Nigeria between 1996 and 2013.

Citation: Weather, Climate, and Society 9, 2; 10.1175/WCAS-D-16-0032.1

The trend analysis of temperature values between 1996 and 2013 across the meteorological stations in the state indicates a significant (p ≤ 0.05) increase in minimum temperature at most four stations in most months (except December). Many stations with significant increase in temperature are in either the northern or central region (Fig. 4a). Conversely, maximum temperature declined significantly at many stations in the state between the study period in most months; only the Akoko Southeast area exhibits significant increase in maximum temperature (in November; Fig. 4b).

With respect to the NIMET data, rainfall generally increased from the beginning of the year and peaked between July and September before declining from October (Fig. 5a). The LGA-based analysis, however, indicated that only at a few stations (at most in 6 of 18 stations) did rainfall increase significantly (p ≤ 0.05), and that is in July. Monthly changes in rainfall at most stations were not significant (Fig. 5b). The annual monthly box plots for both rainfall and temperature show that extreme rainfall events have occurred more frequently in the years before 2000 (1985, 1992, 1993, and 1998) than after then (2011), whereas extreme temperature events have occurred more after year 2000 than before it (Fig. 5c).

Fig. 5.
Fig. 5.

Temporal variations in rainfall in Ondo State, Nigeria: (a) temporal variations from the NIMET station at Akure, the state capital; (b) rainfall trends (significant at p ≤ 0.05) at different meteorological stations at different local government areas in the state between 1996 and 2013; and (c) annual monthly box plots with extreme years marked for rainfall and temperature from the NIMET data of Akure.

Citation: Weather, Climate, and Society 9, 2; 10.1175/WCAS-D-16-0032.1

b. Perception of extreme events

The general perception of small-scale farmers in the state shows that the location of the respondents influenced their perceptions. More respondents in the northern and central regions than the residents in the southern region considered that rainfall has reduced, and more respondents in the north and central perceived that there has been a delay in rainfall onset and quicker cessation of rainfall than in the past. More than 70% in each region nonetheless agreed that rainfall onset and cessation have been more difficult to predict (Fig. 6). A respondent in the age group of 46–55 yr at Ondo North argued the following:

Some years ago, I lost all the maize to heat. Rain began early and we were happy, and went to farm to plant maize. My friends and I lost all our investments when rain suddenly stopped for weeks, and there was hunger in the year.

Another retiree turned farmer in Ayegunle Akoko, Ondo North noted the following:

In June 2014, I lost my investments in the fish pond to a flood event that occurred after a heavy rain at a midnight. That was my most severe loss in 20 years.

In the central region, a number of farmers also expressed their opinions on climate extreme events; a young yam farmer in Oda, a village near the state capital, claimed that he stopped cultivating yam after the 200 pieces he planted were destroyed by soil temperature. On the other hand, 56% of respondents from the southern region complained about decline in rainfall. More than 75% in each region complained of an “increased afternoon heat.”
Fig. 6.
Fig. 6.

Perception of selected farmers on changes in (a) rainfall and (b) temperature in the three regions (north, south, central) of Ondo State.

Citation: Weather, Climate, and Society 9, 2; 10.1175/WCAS-D-16-0032.1

c. Farm activities and climate impact

Small-scale farming in Ondo State, Nigeria, is influenced by gender and location. Although relatively fewer females were involved in farming (as farm owners), they influence the type of crops cultivated. At Ondo North, a larger percentage of those who cultivated vegetables were female (Table 2). Most of the female farmers also cultivated less than one hectare as against the majority of the male farmers, who cultivated larger areas. We found in the interview that the majority of the females who cultivate large farms are breadwinners of their families (either because they are widows, separated, or are married to husbands who are incapable of sustaining the family; in the latter case, the woman is often not the first or only wife). The majority of the farmers cultivate cereals (mainly Zea mays), yam (Discorea rotundata), and okra (Abelmoschus esculantus), but very few cultivated soy beans (Glycine max). Crops such as melon (Colocynthis citrullus) are planted both as a food and cover crop (to reduce soil water evaporation in the dry months), especially in the north and central regions. The farmers typically practiced mixed cropping (or intercropping), and about 31.9% complemented cropping with poultry or fishery.

Table 2.

Characteristics of small-scale farms and farmers’ practices in Ondo State, Nigeria.

Table 2.

The majority of the farmers perceived that excessive, too little, or delayed rainfall severely affects their cropping activities, causing delayed planting and difficulty in land preparation and consequently causing poor production of food crops. In addition, increased temperature and windstorms were perceived to cause heat stress that adversely affects crops at different farming stages (land preparation, planting, tendering, and harvesting). In many cases, young farmers eventually quit farming for politics or employment in the state capital (Table 3). One young farmer in Akoko Southwest in Ondo North gave examples of politicians in the region who were members of their Farmers’ Union but quitted farming after their crops were not productive.

Table 3.

Perceptions on the effects of weather or climate effects [effects with high (70%) responses are presented].

Table 3.

d. Coping strategies: Mitigation and adaptation responses

Approaches to coping with the effects of abnormal climatic conditions in the study area are generally based on previous trials and farmers’ experiences in previous events. The practices are presented in Fig. 7 to include planting early maturing crops, changing planting date of crops, and alternating or diversifying the crops from more vulnerable to less vulnerable crop to a particular dominant climate or weather extreme. The mitigation practices, however, differ significantly based on the regions; whereas the farmers in the north prefer to change the dates of planting (74%), the majority in the south would still plant probably because of the relatively higher amount of the atmospheric moisture (due to the proximity of the south to the influence of the Atlantic Ocean) in the region. Furthermore, the majority of the farmers diversify their choice crops in order to take advantage of the long planting season and to reduce the potential effect (spread of pest and diseases) of too early onset of rain on their crops. About 88% argued that they preferred to change the planting date in order to prevent loss of crop as a result of late onset of rain. However, over 70% of the farmers indicated their complete helplessness in severe cases of excessive rainfall, excessive heat (high temperature), and prolonged dryness after an initial rainfall as they have no measures to prevent their impacts on the crops. In addition, about 72% of the farmers used mulching as an adaptive measure against high temperature and prolonged dryness to conserve soil moisture, while about 24% abandoned (fallow) their farmland in cases of excessive rainfall (flooding). Only about 16% make use of fertilizer, which they attributed to high cost of purchase, and only 2% practiced irrigation.

Fig. 7.
Fig. 7.

(top) Methods of coping with extreme weather and climate events by small-scale farmers in Ondo State, Nigeria. (bottom) Types of farm support by the government. See text for details.

Citation: Weather, Climate, and Society 9, 2; 10.1175/WCAS-D-16-0032.1

5. Discussion

The study area is typical of a sovereignty of agrarian communities in developing countries, with a low level of industrialization. The capital city, Akure, is an emerging, well-planned, urbanized community, where anthropogenic influences have been linked to development of urban heat island phenomenon, even in the year 2001 (Akinbode et al. 2008). This study noticed the effect of location on the climate of different regions, as measured at the meteorological stations. This variation in the climate was also noticed in the perceptions of the sampled farmers about extreme climate effects and their impacts. The variations in climate as related to the proximity to the Atlantic Ocean have been reported in previous studies (including Ayoade 1978; Eludoyin and Adelekan 2013; Eludoyin et al. 2014). Areas closer to the south are more influenced by the moisture-laden maritime air mass from the Atlantic Ocean than the areas far away. Although the study did not establish diurnal patterns of the climate variation because of the unavailability of the daily data, the results of the significant trends in the minimum temperature and rainfall at some stations suggest the need for extensive monitoring of the climate from dense meteorological stations. There are only two national climate monitoring stations in the state—the state capital and Ondo—and these are grossly inadequate. Many studies have criticized the inadequacy of climate monitoring stations in developing countries, especially Nigeria, as a critical impediment to building adequate resilience to extreme climate conditions (e.g., Dietz et al. 2016; Ibouraïman et al. 2016; Ignatius 2016), and establishing climate monitoring stations in rural areas is necessary for achieving resilience.

A comparison of the perception of the farmers and the results of the meteorological analysis does reflect adequate understanding of the climate, except that the farmers react to the effect of climate rather than exhibiting significant preparedness for extreme climate conditions. The majority of the farmers reported temperature increase and decline in rainfall as evidence of climate extreme or climate variability in sub-Saharan Africa (e.g., Akponikpè et al. 2010; Simelton et al. 2011). Studies (such as Ovuka and Lindqvist 2000) have, however, argued that meteorological data do not always support farmers’ perception that rainfall has declined over time or that climate variation is increasing. In their study on farmers in Burkina Fasso, Ingram et al. (2002) noted that more detailed information from forecasts will benefit farmers more than the perceived feelings that the present study has shown. Observations made while conducting interviews revealed that the farmers yearned for enlightenment and support in order to better adjust when weather conditions depart from the norm.

The small-scale farmers in the study area are vulnerable to the effects of the extreme event cases as heat stress and flooding because adequate protection infrastructures were not available. Studies have shown that heat stress causes discomfort in humans (Larsen 2003) and promotes disease prevalence on crops (Rosenzweig et al. 2001; Chaves et al. 2012), among other effects. The effects of extreme temperature or rainfall caused problems for farmers at almost all stages of cropping, especially during land preparation, planting period, soil tillage, crop tending, and harvesting. Studies (Boko et al. 2007) have indicated that extreme temperature or rainfall events often cause low farm productivity. Reduction in farm yield poses a significant threat to food security, if not ameliorated. Studies have shown that many parts of sub-Saharan Africa have been facing food security threats because of fluctuations in rainfall and extreme temperature. Studies have also indicated that the challenge of food insecurity has not always been met with appropriate mitigation strategies (Deressa et al. 2008). In this study, the small-scale farmers, who are mostly men, aged above 35 yr and in possession of at least a primary school level of education and a minimum of about NGN $50,000 (about USD $157 per annum or USD $13.10 per month), often alternate different measures to prevent loss of crops because they consider that the onset and cessation as well as the intensity of rainfall has become more unpredictable in the area. The farmers opined that crops planted with the arrival of early rains get smothered in the soil when an unexpected dry spell follows early planting. Crop smothering, and the late arrival of rains due to climate variability, results in harvest failures mostly in regions that rely on rain-fed agriculture (Parry et al. 1999). Most of the farmers also alter planting dates, plant early maturing seeds or seedlings, and diversify cultivated crops in order to mitigate the effect of climate extremes on their crops. Farmers often intercrop grains with melons, yams, and cassava. Most of the farmers interpret crop diversification to mean “growing different mix of crop species or cultivars that may be drought resistant or early maturing, with the intent of managing drought, spread of pest and diseases, soil fertility decline and fluctuations in prices of farm inputs.” Studies show that farmers use crop diversification as a self-insuring strategy to reduce income variability (Briglauer 2000; Jema 2008), and adjustment of plant dates as a strategy to maintain or increase farm yields in the face of changing climate (Lauer et al. 1999).

Local varieties of crops [yams—Gambari/Shagari, Ewusu, Awana, Apada, and Alur; maize—Agriculture Development Programme (ADP) or ADP yellow corn and the white indigenous corn; okra—finger or long and short type; and melon—long and short type] are characterized by different maturity dates. The majority of the farmers prefer to cultivate the Gambari/Shagari yam (with maturity period of at most 7 months, compared to others that mature in 1–3 yr), the ADP yellow corn, and the short okra (with at most 3-month maturity period) to ameliorate effects of climate/weather uncertainties. Furthermore, the farmers often intercrop the yams and corn with melon and practice mulching to cope with climate/weather extremes. Mulching is the practice of protecting the top soil with organic materials (mulch) from intense soil temperature and heat scorching (mulch is a protective layer of material that is spread at about 7–15 cm on exposed soils; Erenstein 2003). Mulching also prevents the growth of weed, reduces the impact of erosion, and enriches the soil by adding organic matter. The majority of the farmers in the study area mulch their soils, especially yam farms, about 3 months after planting to protect the sprouting plant from being destroyed by excessive heat. In place mulching, a number of farmers cultivate cover crops, especially melons on yam farms. The practice of the use of cover crops and mulching to protect soils against water loss is supported by literature (Awodun and Ojeniyi 1999; Adeniyan et al. 2008). Intercropping maximizes space for the harvest of different crops for the farmers and also protects the soil from degradation due to erosion and spread of pests and diseases among crops and conserves soil water (Olasantan 1988; Ikeorgu et al. 1989).

In general, the responses of the farmers indicate that their coping strategies are limited by poor finances and technology. For example, while the farmers were aware of the importance of irrigation and soil fertilizers, only about 2% of the farmers actually practice irrigation, even when there was need for it during dry spells. The farmers who did not use fertilizers wished they had used it, associating it with improvement in farm productivity, but there is low awareness about the pollution potentials of the fertilizers’ applications for the adjacent aquatic ecosystem (e.g., Eludoyin 2013). Poor funding (if any) of small-scale farming, poor marketing of farm products, lack of modern infrastructure for food storage, and poor “regard” (recognition by the society) of farmers are the concerns raised by farmers in the study area. These concerns are typical problems that have been identified in other studies (e.g., Bryld 2003; Giller et al. 2009; Collier and Dercon 2014) as hindrances to agricultural development in many African countries. Many farmers in the area have also reduced productivity to subsistence level because of poor returns, and the concerns that they raised were cited as reasons. It is therefore important that any existing policies on agriculture need to be updated to meet the challenges faced by small-scale farmers, especially when recent observations and reports have indicated threatening food security in the study area and other parts of Nigeria (e.g., Ojuola 2016). Studies (e.g., Ugwu and Kanu 2011) have described the development in the agricultural sector in Nigeria as unsatisfactory and ineffective.

6. Conclusions and recommendations

The study shows that the LGA-based climate data offer a complementary role in the explanation of local climate in Nigeria and therefore recommends that such LGA-based monitoring stations be established in the remaining 35 states, where they currently either do not exist or are unknown, or where the data are unavailable for research. In addition, the study indicated that the majority of small-scale farmers in the study area are generally aware of climate variability and its implications for cropping activities in their region, but their coping strategies have apparently been restricted by the limited financial and technological capacity of the farmers. In general, the study concludes that extreme climate conditions are capable of affecting the performance and yield of arable crops negatively and, by extension, threatening food security in the area.

Acknowledgments

The authors acknowledge the support of the two interpreters who assisted with the local farmers and thanked the Farmers’ Unions for their support. We also note that this research did not receive funding from any local or international organization. We sincerely thank the reviewers for their comments that have brought the best out of this manuscript.

APPENDIX

Questionnaire Used for the Perception Study

  1. Date of meeting (Farmers’ Union):
  2. Local government area/wards:
  3. Age group (in years): Less than 25, 26–30, 36–45, 46–55, Above 55
  4. Marital status: Married, Single, Others
  5. Sex: Male, Female
  6. How long have you lived here? Below 10 year, 10–20 years, 21–40 years, above 40 years
  7. Highest education level: No formal education, Primary, Secondary, Tertiary
  8. Average annual income: Less than NGN $50,000, NGN $50,000–100,000, above NGN $100,000
  9. Years of farming experience: 1–10, 11–20, 21–30, above 30
  10. How do you take the farming job? Full time, Part time
  11. If your answer to (10) above is part time, what other work do you do?
  12. How large is your farmland? Less than 1 ha, 1–2 ha, 2–4 ha, above 4 ha
  13. What is the source of your labor? Family members, hired labor, cooperative labor
  14. Which of the following crops do you cultivate? Yam, maize, okra, soybean, cash crops, others
  15. If more than one, please rank in order of importance 1–4 (1 for the most important) (See Table A1.)
  16. What period of the year do you plant your most important crops? (See Table A2.)
  17. Which of the following agricultural system do you practice? Monocropping, Mixed cropping, Crop rotation, Mixed farming
  18. Which of the following factors affects your farm practice? Please identify the period of the farm activity. (See Table A3.)
  19. Have you had occasion when your farming activities have been destroyed due to the factors mentioned in 18 above? Yes, No
  20. If yes, which of the factors above?
  21. What practice do you adapt to the following extreme weather condition when/if they happen? (See Table A4.)
  22. What are the effects of the following conditions on your farm produce/yield? Tick 1, 2, 3, or 4, where appropriate. 1 (low), 2 (average), 3 (relatively high), 4 (high)
  23. How does change in weather affect your productivity/performance of your crops?
  24. What method would you adopt to prevent loss of your farm produce/yield under any of the extreme weather conditions? Tick 1, 2, 3 or 4 where appropriate. 1 (Yam), 2 (Maize), 3 (Okra), 4 (Soybeans) (See Table A5.)
  25. Is there any infrastructure on ground to enable you to cope with the effects of the extreme weather conditions? Yes, No
  26. If yes, how many? If no, can you suggest?
  27. Do you get support from the government? Yes, No
  28. What kind of support do you get from the government? Please tick where appropriate. (See Table A6.)
Table A1.

Rank the following in order of importance (to the farmer) for cultivation. If more than one, please rank in order of importance 1–4 (1 for the most important).

Table A1.
Table A2.

What period of the year do you (farmers) plant your most important crops?

Table A2.
Table A3.

Which of the following factors affects your farm practice? Please identify the period of the farm activity.

Table A3.
Table A4.

What practice do you adapt to the following extreme weather conditions when and if they happen?

Table A4.
Table A5.

What method would you adopt to prevent loss of your farm produce/yield under any of the extreme weather conditions? Tick 1, 2, 3, or 4 where appropriate: 1 (Yam), 2 (Maize), 3 (Okra), 4 (Soybeans)

Table A5.
Table A6.

What kind of support do you get from the government? Please tick where appropriate.

Table A6.

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