Comparing smallholder farmers’ perception of climate change with meteorological data: A case study from southwestern Nigeria

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This paper examines smallholder farmers’ perceptions of climate change, climate variability and their impacts, and adaptation strategies adopted over the past three decades. We use ethnographic analysis, combined with Cumulative Departure Index (CDI), Rainfall Anomaly Index (RAI) analysis, and correlation analysis to compare farmers’ perceptions in Southwestern Nigeria with historical meteorological data, in order to assess the way farmers’ observations mirror the climatic trends. The results show that about 67% of farmers who participated had observed recent changes in climate. Perceptions of rural farmers on climate change and variability are consistent with the climatic trend analysis. RAI and CDI results illustrate that not less than 11 out of 30 years in each study site experienced lower-than-normal rainfall. Climatic trends show fluctuations in both early growing season (EGS) and late growing season (LGS) rainfall and the 5-year moving average suggests a reduction in rainfall over the 30 years. Climatic trends confirmed farmers’ perceptions that EGS and LGS precipitations are oscillating, that rainfall onset is becoming later, and EGS rainfall is reducing. Overall impacts of climate change on both crops and livestock appear to be highly negative, much more on maize (62.8%), yam (52.2%), poultry (67%) and cattle (63.2%). Years of farming experiences and level of income of farmers appear to have a significant relationship with farmers’ choice of adaptation strategies, with r≥0.60@ p<0.05 and r≥0.520@ p<0.05 respectively. The study concluded that farmers’ perceptions of climate change mirror meteorological analysis, though their perceptions were based on local climate parameters. Smallholder farmers are particularly vulnerable to climate change since the majority of them do not have enough resources to cope.




Ayanlade, A., Radeny, M., & Morton, J. F. (2017). Comparing smallholder farmers’ perception of climate change with meteorological data: A case study from southwestern Nigeria. Weather and Climate Extremes, 15, 24–33.

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