Smallholder farmer perceptions on climate change and variability: a predisposition for their aubsequent adaptation strategies
Mafongoya, Paramu, L.
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Smallholder farmers are facing several climate-related challenges. Projected changes in climate are expected to aggravate the existing challenges. This study was conducted in Chiredzi district, Masvingo, Zimbabwe. The study objective was to examine farmer perceptions on climate variability, current adaptive strategies and establish factors influencing smallholder farmers’ adaptation to climate change. A survey was conducted with 100 randomly selected respondents from four wards. Additionally, data was collected through focus group discussions and key informant interviews. The results showed that farmers perceived that there has been a decrease in annual rainfall and an increase in average temperatures. A linear trend analysis of rainfall and temperature data from 1980 to 2011 corroborated the farmers’ perceptions. Farmers’ adaptation options included adjusting planting dates and crop diversification. Off-farm income has reduced the dependence of the farmers on agriculture. A multinomial regression analysis showed that socioeconomic factors such as gender, age, number of cattle owned, land size and average crop yields influenced farmer adaptation strategies. The study concludes that although farmers are diverse in their socio-economic attributes, they exhibit homogeneous perceptions on changes in climate, which are consistent with observations of empirical climate data. These perceptions help to shape smallholder farmer coping and adaptation strategies.