Farmers Adaptation to Climate Change in Chivi District of Zimbabwe By Evengelista Chomuyeke Mudzonga

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1 Farmers Adaptation to Climate Change in Chivi District of Zimbabwe By Evengelista Chomuyeke Mudzonga INTRODUCTION Climate change is a pertinent issue affecting the livelihoods and food security in both developing and developed countries. In the tropics, and Africa in particular, changes in climate are expected to be detrimental to agricultural livelihoods. Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO, 2008) argues that many countries worldwide are facing food crises due to conflict and disasters, while food security is being adversely affected by many factors including droughts and floods linked to climate change. Climate change in the form of higher temperatures, reduced rainfall and increased rainfall variability, reduces crop yields and threatens food security in low income based economies. If climatic modelling is anything to go by, findings have shown that temperatures for the Southern African region, where Zimbabwe is geographically located will increase. By 2050, average annual temperature is expected to increase by between 1.5 and 2.5 C for countries in the southern end of the sub region and by between 2.5 and 3.0 C for countries in the northern end of the sub region if compared to the average. However, scientific view is that increases in global temperatures must be below 2 C if governments are to combat climate change in the context of sustainable development (UNFCCC, 2010). This implies that Southern African countries will likely face a serious challenge in dealing with climate change as increases in temperatures have been predicted to exceed the scientific limit of 2 C. The importance of the agriculture sector in Zimbabwe cannot be overemphasised. This sector employs 74% of the labour force with the majority of them being women. Agriculture production has not been satisfactory since The sector s contribution to total exports was 51% in 2000 but fell significantly to 13% in Further, growth of the sector was negative between 2001 and This has been mainly attributed to unfavourable domestic policy environment, shortage of critical inputs such as fertilizer and fuel; poor complementary services such as provision of information on climate change through extension services and weather forecasts from the Department of Meteorological Service; access to credit facilities, environmental degradation, overgrazing and climatic factors such as increase temperatures, recurrent droughts and tropical cyclones. Ultimately, a country that was once the breadbasket of Southern Africa, turned to be a net importer of grain. This is illustrated in Figure 1.1. It is clear that the country was a net importer since 2001 and the cereal deficit that the government reduced through commercial imports was also covered by the food relief organisations such as the World Food Programme. Chivi district was classified as highly food insecure the greater part of this period.

2 According to the Zimbabwe Department of Meteorological Service, the country is now experiencing more hot days and fewer cold days, and the amount of precipitation it receives is deviating from the mean more frequently evidencing that the country is experiencing climate Figure 1.2: Linear trends in warm and cold days (temperature) and rainfall in Zimbabwe Source: Zimbabwe Department of Meteorological Service at Problem statement Increasing temperatures and variations in rainfall patterns over time, coupled with frequent mid seasonal droughts and cyclones are clear evidence that the climate has changed in Chivi. Communal farming is the chief source of livelihood in the district but the rain fed agriculture is highly vulnerable to the vagaries of climate change. This is worsened by the fact that Chivi area is an agricultural marginal area and has a fragile ecosystem. Physical presence of relief agencies almost yearly to provide food handouts is now a common phenomenon which provides evidence that agricultural production has drastically fallen as farmers cannot produce enough to meet their subsistence food requirements. Responding to climate change through mitigation will take time and therefore adaptation becomes critical particularly where the ability to adapt is low. Negative impacts of climate change can be reduced through adaptation, which requires involvement of the local community. Government policy to promote adaptation to climate change is in place but seems not to cope with the looming food

3 insecurity in Chivi district. The government places a lot of emphasis on adaptation methods such as use of high breed seed, drought resistant crops, early and late planting, conservation farming and irrigation schemes in the area. Response to climate change through adaptation however, appears to be weak. It seems that there is a gap between the rate at which climate is changing and the response to reduce its impact through employment of adaptation strategies that ensure sustainable food security by Chivi farmers. In spite of this, factors that influence farmers decisions to adapt to climate change in Chivi district are not known. This study seeks to investigate the factors that influence farmers decision to adapt to climate change in order to inform policy formulation that enhances farmers capacity to adapt to climate change. Unless these factors are known, government support on adaptation to climate change may be ineffective. Objectives of the study The general objective of this paper is to investigate the household and institutional factors that influence farmer s decisions to adapt to climate change in Chivi district. Specific objectives 1. To determine whether farm household size, farming experience and education of the household head influence farmers decisions to adapt to climate change. 2. To establish if access to credit and exposure to information on climate change are significant in determining adaptation to climate change. METHODOLOGY Commonly used methods to analyse agricultural adoption strategies include probit and logit models. Binary choice models are commonly used when the farmer faces two choices of whether to adopt or not. A logit model analyses the relationship between a binary dependent variable and a set of independent variables. The logit function is presented as follows: β X e P =....(1) 1 β X + e X - is a set of independent variables that determine the farmer s probability to adapt to climate change. These include educational level of the household head, farm household size, age of the household head, non farm income, access to credit, exposure to information on climate change, farm size, soil fertility and the house hold head s farming experience.

4 SUMMARY OF THE MAIN FINDINGS This paper investigated farmers adaptation to climate change in Chivi district and the factors that influence their decisions to do so. Ideally, the study sought to establish how household characteristics, farm characteristics, institutional characteristics affect farmers adaptation to climate change. This study tested the hypothesis that factors such as education of the household head, farm household size, exposure to information on climate change, access to credit and farming experience all positively influence the farmers decisions to adapt to climate change. The study used cross sectional data that was collected between December 2010 and January 2011 farming season through personally administered questionnaires. A logit model was applied to establish the factors that explain adaptation to climate change in Chivi district. Main findings revealed that household characteristic and institutional factors such as education of the household head, farm household size, farming experience, access to credit, exposure to information on climate change all had a positive and significant influence on adaptation to climate change in Chivi district. The findings therefore support the claim that was set to be tested. The age of the household head, non farm income, soil fertility and farm size were found to be statistically insignificant in influencing the farmer s decision on whether to adapt to climate change or not after the study adopted the movement from the general to specific modelling. Increased knowledge about climate change, more farm labour and access to credit enhance to adaptation capacity of the farmer to reduce the negative impact of climate change. The choice of the adaptation strategies are determined by the farmer s factor endowment such as labour and capital. Policy implications Factors influencing farmers decisions to adapt to climate change point to the need for the African governments in their CAADP processes to strengthen and develop institutional mechanisms that support farmers to ensure sustainability of their agricultural activities and enhanced food security. Agricultural Extension Services, Department of Meteorological Service and Agricultural Finance Institutions need strengthening while rural micro finance institutions need to be developed. Efforts by government to support farmers adaptation to climate change are in place but more focus should be placed on effective adaptation to leverage the little resources that are currently allocated for communal agriculture. African governments must support farmers education through various policies. For example, adult literacy can be intensified and offered to communal farmers at affordable charges. More schools and better education facilities should be provided to the farmers in the rural. Specialised education on

5 climate change and the agriculture sector can help increase farmers knowledge and help them appreciate the benefits of adapting to climate change. Policies that ensure dissemination of information and research and development on climate change forecasting, changes in agriculture production cycles and appropriate adaptation strategies should be promoted. As such, the African governments should intensify the provision of extension services by ensuring increased interactions between farmers and extension officers possibly through procuring more vehicles that extension officers can use for field visits. Information generated by the Department of Meteorological Service should timely reach out to farmers through extension officers to facilitate them make informed decisions and reduce uncertainty and allow them to better prepare for severe weather conditions. The African governments through extension services should encourage farmer to farmer extension services where farmers can exchange information about their farming experiences in order to tap the experiences gained by experienced farmers. In this regard, farming cooperatives can be encouraged. Increase in affordable lines of credit is important in adapting to climate change. The government can prioritise availability of credit through the formal channels as this will enable the farmers to secure farm inputs on time. With more income, they will be able to buy fertilisers and early yielding crop seed. Agricultural Finance Institutions should be allocated more resources to expand its services to reach farmers rural areas by introducing affordable lines of credit. In addition, the government should look into establishing collaboration with development agencies to facilitate lines of credit to rural farmers. Microfinance development in the district should be promoted where farmers co-operatives can be introduced to lend credits to the farmers since these do not have stringent collateral requirements as compared to the formal financial institutions.

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