Farmers’ Awareness of Climate Change and Agricultural Intensification in Ebonyi State, Nigeria



The study investigated farmers’ awareness of climate change and agricultural intensification in Ebonyi State, Nigeria. It utilized both primary and secondary data. The primary data were collected through a multistage random sampling technique from 99 respondents, out of which only 93 were useful in the analyses. The secondary data were collected from relevant government institutions such as the National Population Commission, Ebonyi State Ministry of Lands and Survey and National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources. These data were analyzed with descriptive statistics, shifting cultivation ratio, Ricardian approach, multiple regression and multinomial logit models. Tests of significant effects and differences were carried out with t-test, chi-square test and analysis of variance (ANOVA) techniques. Research results show that farmers are aware of climate change at an average of 3.71 on a 5-Point Likert rating scale. The results indicate varying trends in climate distribution with no significant differences among them at P<0.01, and also a relatively increasing trend in agricultural production with yam, cassava and rice as the most produced crops. Further results show that although the relationships between each of temperature and rainfall with agricultural production are negative and positive, respectively, the relationships are weak, insignificant and statistically independent at P<0.05. These suggest that climate change does not have significant impact on agricultural intensification and production. The impact of population pressure, labour, fertilizer and manure applications on intensification are positive and significant at P<0.05 respectively, while that of farm size is significant and negative at P<0.05. Also, research results indicate that significant differences in intensification exist among the three agricultural zones of the state at P<0.01. Furthermore, the results show that the state is under short fallow agriculture at a shifting cultivation ratio of 35.29% and multiple cropping accounts for 88% of all the cropping systems practiced by farmers. These results further show that farmers’ rationale for use of various agricultural practices are majorly for intensification purposes at 42% compared to 35% for climate change adaptation purpose. This suggests the absence of a definite pathway for climate change adaptation. Furthermore, the results reveal that climate change adaptation and agricultural intensification measures account for 26.2% and 58.4% of the responses in farm productivity, respectively. The implication of this is that the impact of intensification variables on farm productivity is stronger than those of climate change adaptation measures. Multiple cropping, making of ridges and mounds across and in farms are the most predominant climate change adaptation practices of farmers at 98.6%, 87% and 95%, respectively. Perceived rise in temperature, fall in rainfall, access to credit facilities and extension services, level of education and farm productivity are the factors that had positive and significant effects on farmers’ choice of climate change adaptation at P<0.05, while the effects of farm size and household size are negative and significant at P<0.05. This implies that availability and access to farm inputs (land, labour, manure, fertilizer, credit facilities and extension services) are beneficial to agricultural production and productivity, and therefore enhance climate change adaptation. The study recommends policies that will enhance farmers’ understanding of climate change and climate change adaptation, and increase their use of farm inputs.





1.1       Background Information

Agriculture is the predominant economic activity in Nigeria, just like other developing countries. It provides food for the increasing population; supply of adequate raw materials (and labour input) to a growing industrial sector; a major source of employment; generation of foreign exchange earnings; and provision of a market for the products of the industrial sector (Okumadewa, 1997; World Bank, 1998; Winters, Janvry, Sadoulet and Stamoulis, 1998; Food and Agricultural Organization – FAO, 2006 as cited in Eze, Lemchi, Eze, Awulonu and Okon, 2010). In this part of the world, agricultural production is occurring at varying levels of intensification (Okike, Jabbor, Manyaong, Smith, Akinwumi and Ehui, 2011), and is highly dependent on climate (Ayinde, Ajewola, Ogunlade and Adewumi, 2010). Currently, all over the world, climate change is taking place and is expected to affect agricultural production (FAO, 2006; Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – IPCC, 2001). In a similar development, significant emissions of greenhouse gases that cause climate change have been attributed to agricultural activities (McMichael, Powles Butler and Uauy, 2007).  The climate change – agricultural intensification interactions have formed a nexus therefore, with great implications on agricultural production and food security.

Climate change according to IPCC (2007) refers to ‘a change in the state of the climate that can be identified (e.g. using statistical tests) by changes in the mean and/or the variability of its properties and that persist for an extended period typically decades or longer.’ It results from both natural and anthropogenic factors which lead to the emission and concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (World Resources Institute – WRI, 1993; Climate Change Information Resources – CCIR, 2005). These greenhouse gases deplete the ozone layer (i.e. earth’s protective shield) and also, trap heat (infrared radiation) near the earth’s surface, resulting in the heating up of the surface of the earth, a condition known as global warming (National Academy of Sciences – NAS, 2001). The presence of climate change in Nigeria has been reported (Nigerian Environmental Study Team – NEST, 2004) with different manifestations. These include extreme conditions of flooding, temperature rise (heat waves), rises in sea levels, drought and desertification, wind storms, and the drying up of streams and rivers (Odjugo, 2010; Obioha, 2010; Ozor, Madukwe, Onokala, Enete, Garforth, Eboh, Ujah and Amaechina, 2010).

These changing climatic conditions affect agricultural production, although the effects are expected to vary across temporal and spatial scales (Dinar, Mendelsohn, Hassan and Benhin, 2008). However, the manifestations of climate change suggest that countries in temperate locations may benefit from small economic advantages because additional warming will increase their agricultural sector (Mendelsohn, Dinar and Dalfelt, 2000 as cited in Ayinde et al., 2010), unlike countries in the tropics. This will be most severe in Africa where climate is the primary determinant of agricultural production (Adams, Hurd, Lenhart and Leary, 1998) coupled with low adaptive capacities to climate change (Apata, Samuel and Adeola, 2009; SPORE, 2008). Furthermore, in Africa, current information is the poorest, technological change has been the slowest, and the domestic economies depend heavily on agriculture (Action Aid, 2008). In this light, climate change further deepens vulnerabilities, erode hard-won gains and seriously undermine Africa’s prospects for development notwithstanding the efforts to overcome poverty and advance economic growth in the region (WBGU, 2004; Zoellick, 2009 as cited in Enete, Madu, Onwubuya, Onyekuru, Mojekwu and Eze, 2011).

Agricultural intensification on its part refers to the increased use of average inputs of labour or capital on smallholding, on cultivated land for the purpose of increasing the output or value of the output per hectare (Giovanni, 2001). It entails the use of high-yielding crop varieties and species, fertilizer and manure applications, use of irrigation, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and machines in agricultural production. This is an age-long practice, and was among the predominant global changes in the last 50 years of the 19th century, contributing substantially to the tremendous increase in food production in the world (Matson, Parton, Power and Swift, 1997). Agricultural intensification is associated with land use and fallow periods (Lele and Stone, 1989), and it is measured by the length of fallow periods between plantings (Ruthenberg, 1980). This formed the premise for Ester Boserup in her hypothesis, ‘Boserup hypothesis,’ in 1965 (Giovanni, 2001). The theory stated that agricultural intensification leads to increased agricultural production, and arises from growth in population (Boserup, 1965; 1981). This is an antithesis of Malthus population theory which holds that population growth and agricultural production move in opposite directions. Boserup hypothesis is hinged on the fact that as population density increases, changes occur in cropping techniques such as first expanding areas under cultivation, or when that is no longer possible, shortening of fallow periods and increasing the labour input, to satisfy the higher demand for food.

However, the intensification of agricultural production poses serious threat to the environment and ultimately, to food production and food security. It alters the biotic interactions and patterns of resource availability in ecosystems with serious negative local, regional and global consequences such as increased erosion, lower soil fertility, reduced biodiversity, and pollution, eutrophication of lakes and rivers, and climate change (Matson et al., 1997). More so, about 22% of total greenhouse gas emissions are attributed to agriculture, thereby making intensification a major cause of climate change (McMichael et al., 2007). This is of essence in Nigeria, considering the growing rate of intensification evident in the decreasing average farm sizes and length of fallow periods, the result of which is the prevalence of multiple and continuous cropping and mixed farming by majority of farmers, especially in southeastern Nigeria (Oti, 2008; Negatu, 2005).

1.2       Problem Statement

Food security and self-sufficiency in food production is still a distant target in sub-Saharan Africa (Agwu, Egbule, Amadu, Morlai, Woller and Cegbe, 2011; Matson et al., 1997). This is further worsened by the high vulnerability of the region’s agriculture to climate change arising from its over dependence on climate as well as low adaptive capacities (Apata et al., 2009; SPORE, 2008). More so, agricultural production and intensification activities in the region are not sustainable leading to alarming rate of environmental degradation and climate change (McMichael et al., 2007; Giovanni, 2001). As such, it has necessitated several research on climate change impact on agriculture (Agwu et al., 2011; Enete et al., 2011; Farauta, Egbule, Idrisa and Agu, 2011; Ozor et al., 2010; Onyeneke and Madukwe, 2010; Apata et al., 2009; Kurukulasuriya and Mendelsohn, 2008; Ouedraogo, Some and Dembele, 2006; Mendelsohn et al., 2000).

These studies suggest that for sure, African agriculture will be severely affected by climate change. It has also been reported that every region in Africa will experience some negative climate change impacts, although some regions will be more vulnerable than others (Mendelsohn et al., 2000). However, most of these studies are on continental or national level which poses great challenge in conveying and translating the results to farmers in rural areas where agricultural production take place (Apata et al., 2009; Kurukulasuriya and Mendelsohn, 2008; Ouedraogo et al., 2006). Furthermore, the true level of awareness and perception of farmers on climate change is not known with certainty, as there are varying opinions on it. This at once reflects a huge knowledge gap. In addition, most of these studies dwelt on the adaptation of farmers to climate change (Onyeneke and Madukwe, 2010; Ozor et al., 2010; Enete and Amusa, 2010; Apata et al., 2010; Apata et al., 2009; Deressa, 2008; FAO, 2007; Ouedraogo et al., 2006). However, Apata, Ogunyinka, Sanusi and Ogunwande (2010) noted that there have not been sufficient studies on the effectiveness of these adaptation measures i.e. the level of adoption of adaptive measures and their effect on productivity.

This is germane considering the report of World Resources Institute in 2005 that the overall food production in the world may not be threatened by climate change, but those least able to cope (FAO, 2007). It is in agreement with an earlier report that the vulnerability of agriculture is not determined by the nature and magnitude of environmental stress like climate change per se, but the combination of the societal capacity to cope with and/or recover from the environmental change (Wisner et al., 2004 as cited in Enete et al., 2011). However, only few of these studies made attempt to determine factors that influence choice adaptation by farmers (Enete et al., 2011; Onyeneke and Madukwe, 2010; Deressa et al., 2008).

In addition, agricultural intensification was not incorporated in most of these studies of climate change impact on agriculture (Apata et al., 2010; Ouedraogo et al., 2006; Ziervogel et al., 2008). This is notwithstanding that agricultural intensification measures could act as effective adaptations to climate change considering their web of relationship and influence on farm productivity (figure 1).

Temperature, precipitation, land resource integrity
Reactions to climate-induced constraints: intensification and adaptation
Farm productivity
Climate Change


Figure 1: Climate change and agricultural intensification linkages.

1.3       Objectives of the Study

The broad objective of this study was to examine farmers’ awareness of climate change and agricultural intensification in Ebonyi State, Southeast Nigeria.

The specific objectives included to:

  1. determine the level of awareness and perception on climate change.
  2. assess the trend in climate change and corresponding level of agricultural production.
  • identify the cropping and fallow systems practiced.
  1. identify the drivers of agricultural intensification.
  2. identify climate change adaptations, and factors affecting choice of adaptation.
  3. determine the rationale for farmers’ use of various agricultural practices.
  • estimate the response of farm productivity to climate change adaptation and agricultural intensification measures.

1.4       Research Hypotheses

The following null hypotheses were tested about the broad objective:

  1. H01: There is no significant effect of climate change on agricultural production.
  2. H02: Farm productivity does not respond significantly to climate change adaptation.
  • H03: Farm productivity does not respond significantly to agricultural intensification measures.
  1. H04: There is no significant difference in intensification among the different agricultural zones.
  1. H05: There is no significant effect of farm variable socioeconomic characteristics on the choice of climate change adaptation.

1.5       Justification for the Study

The life and wellbeing of sub-Saharan Africa and developing countries like Nigeria is pivoted highly on agriculture. In Nigeria, agriculture contributes over 40% to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (CBN, 2005; 2007 as cited in Tewodoj, Morris, Freinkman, Adubi, Ehui, Nwoko, Taiwo, Nege, Okonji and Chete, 2008), and provides employment opportunities to about 70% of the populace (FMARD, 2001; Onyekwere, Agbolagha, Agbonkpolor and Umar, 2010).

Despite these vital roles played by agriculture in the economy of Nigeria, the country is highly food insecure and malnourished (FAO, 2007). This situation has been worsened and hope of recovery dampened by the ravaging threat of climate change. Nigeria like other developing countries is highly vulnerable to climate change, arising from the over dependence of its agriculture on climate coupled with its low adaptive capacities to climate change (Apata et al., 2009; Dinar et al., 2008). For instance, about 97% of total cropland production in sub-Saharan Africa is rain-fed (Alvaro, Tingju, Katrin, Richard and Claudria, 2009). Therefore, with reports of declining rainfall patterns due to climate change, a fall in crop yield in Africa by 10 – 20% by 2050 or even up to 50% has been projected (Jones and Thornton, 2003 in Enete and Amusa, 2010). Nigeria further, is leading in a list of top ten (10) African countries that would suffer the largest loss in GDP due to climate change (Mendelsohn et al., 2010). In this light, food insecurity, hunger, malnourishment and poverty will worsen in tropical and sub-tropical countries, given the 800 million people currently food insecure in the region (NEST, 2004).

In Nigeria, in view of the tenure arrangement and surge in population, there is strive demand for land, which is the basic resource for agricultural production. As a result, there is decreasing average farm sizes, increasing farm distances from homes, reduced fallow periods, multiple and continuous cropping, and hence, increased agricultural intensification (Giovanni, 2001). This practice is highly unsustainable as it depletes the natural resources and degrades the environment. According to Matson et al. (1997), agricultural practices and intensification alters the biotic composition of the ecosystem with serious effects on the environment as well as the capacity of the environment to support more food production. More so, 22% of total greenhouse gas emissions are attributed to agriculture, thereby making agriculture a major contributor to climate change (McMichael et al., 2007). Also, in developing countries, several other factors impair their ability to develop and apply effective adaptations to climate change (Onyeneke and Mduakwe, 2010; Apata et al., 2009; Action Aid, 2008; SPORE, 2008).

These scenarios have made the problem of climate change to be increasingly felt in the country thereby making the study highly relevant and important. Therefore, the empirical findings of the study will have far reaching implications on farm productivity and food security. They will provide vital statistics to research, government and private institutions and corporations, and ultimately, to the farmers. They will be in alignment with the emphasis of Enete et al (2011) for the need for increased awareness, teaching, learning and research by Universities and Research Institutes in order to develop multi-pronged capacity to tackle climate change. They findings will be adequately integrated with earlier and future studies on climate change impact on agriculture, thereby building a formidable repository of knowledge, from where to draw, for important policy decisions and implementations.


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