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CR 75:261-275 (2018)  -  DOI:

Perception of and response to climate change by maize-dependent smallholders

Sisay B. Bedeke1,*, Wouter Vanhove1, Muluken G. Wordofa2, Kolandavel Natarajan3, Patrick Van Damme1,4

1Laboratory of Tropical and Subtropical Agriculture and Ethnobotany, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent University, Ghent 9000, Belgium
2Center for International Cooperation and Development, University of Pavia, Strada Nuova 65-27100, Italy
3College of Agriculture, Wolaita Sodo University, Wolaita Sodo 138, Ethiopia
4Faculty of Tropical AgriSciences, Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, Kamycka 129, Prague 6-Suchdol 165 21, Czech Republic
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Smallholder crop producers in sub-Saharan Africa are adversely affected by climate change because of their reliance on rain for crop production. Promoting adaptation interventions at local scale is unlikely to be effective without understanding farmers’ views on climate change. Our study analyzes climate change perceptions and responses by maize-dependent smallholders in Ethiopia. Household-level data on farmers’ climate change perceptions and adaptation strategies were collected. In addition, meteorological data were obtained from local weather stations for the period 1985-2015. Descriptive statistics, standard rainfall anomalies, thematic content methods and binary logistic models were used to analyze the relationship between climate change perceptions and adaptations. Findings show that nearly all farmers perceived climate change through increased hot and warm days and nights as well as decreased precipitation volumes. Results indicate that farmers perceive shortened seasonal rainfall duration in terms of both late start and early end. Farmers employ a range of strategies, notably cropping date adjustment, improved crop variety use, crop diversification, agroforestry practices and seasonal migration to adapt to climate change. Farmers’ adaptation decisions were mainly associated with their climate change perceptions as well as socio-economic factors such as education level and farm experience. It is, therefore, suggested that recognizing farmers’ knowledge and experience on climate change would help develop context-specific, flexible adaptation strategies that better build resilience capacity.

KEY WORDS: Adaptation strategies · Observed climate data · Crop yield · Resilience · Seasonal rainfall · Africa

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Cite this article as: Bedeke SB, Vanhove W, Wordofa MG, Natarajan K, Van Damme P (2018) Perception of and response to climate change by maize-dependent smallholders. Clim Res 75:261-275.

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