Farmers’ perception and adaptation to climate change: case study of vulnerable areas in uMhlathuze Local Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
Yende, Abla Nomfanelo Precious.
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Global climate change has become a crucial concern, with smallholder farmers in developed countries being the most vulnerable In Africa, especially Sub-Saharan Africa, the majority of smallholder farmers cultivate crops and depend on agriculture for food and livelihoods. As a result, smallholder farmers must be mindful of the consequences of climate change and shifting weather conditions in order to implement appropriate adaptation steps. Without adaptation, climate change would have a serious impact on the agricultural development of smallholder farmers. As a result, however, smallholder farmers from Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Africa lack the tools such as infrastructure, finance, information, and technology that could help them survive. The study examined smallholder farmers' perceptions of climate change, as well as the types of changes they have made to their agricultural activities in response to climate change, in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, more specifically in the rural region of KwaDlangezwa in the Mhlathuze Municipality. This study employed a mixed-methods approach, which incorporates quantitative and qualitative analysis. The quantitative approach used a standardised questionnaire to elicit responses from 101 smallholder farmers who were purposefully chosen to participate. Qualitative results were gathered by focus group discussions with smallholder farmers in order to delve further into the farmers' views of climate change and their adaptation choices. Additionally, the logit regression model was used to classify determinants (factors affecting farmers') of adaptation to climate change in this analysis. According to the study's results, the majority of smallholder farmers were female (79.2%) and older (49.5% ). The majority of smallholder farmers engaged in crop cultivation for household use (75.2%). Smallholder farmers relied on their indigenous skills when it came to crop selection, planting seasons, and weather forecasting (63.4% ). About 56% of smallholder farmers were aware of climate change, 98 percent perceived a rise in temperature, 46.5 percent perceived an increase in rainfall, and 50.5 percent perceived a reduction in rainfall owing to prolonged drought seasons. The focus group discussions show that smallholder farmers feel climate change is the result of their forefathers' or God's wrath and that they do not understand it. Climate trends have had a significant negative effect on the population of smallholder farmers, including crop loss (99.0% and food insecurity (65.3%). However, 90.1% of smallholder farmers say that they have received no training on climate change intervention, and 96.0% report that they have made no investment in climate adaptation technology. Around 94.1% reported receiving no assistance from extension agencies, resulting in just 30.7% adapting to climate change. They have developed mostly by shifting planting dates, crop diversification, and changing planting dates to both temperature and rainfall changes. Although the Logit regression study indicates that four factors are statistically significant for climate change adaptation. These factors are gender (P=0.028), age (0.038), gross hectares of land (P=0.003), and years of cultivation (P=0.018), both of which are statistically important. Additionally, the study's findings indicated that smallholder farmers faced adaptation challenges such as a lack of knowledge (83.2%) and farm inputs (such as machinery, tractors, and improved seeds) (60.4% ). 98% of smallholder farmers confirmed that climate change has impacted their agricultural operations, resulting in a reduction in farm income for 85.1% of smallholder farmers. The majority of female smallholder farmers (95.0%) indicated that their households lacked agricultural-based food products. Droughts (77.2 percent), price spikes (42.6 percent), and flooding are the primary causes of these food crises (22.8 percent ). According to the focus group discussions, while they are adapting to climate change through indigenous expertise, they believe it will help them to learn more cost-effective adaptation approaches that would increase crop production. It is critical, therefore, to conduct awareness-raising and training programmes to teach farmers about climate change, its consequences, and the necessary methods to employ in response to increases in both rainfall and temperature. Additionally, the government would need to provide inputs for climate change adaptation and expand extension programmes to these areas to ensure continued surveillance after farmers have been trained.