Accepted 30th July, 2016
Climate change phenomenon is currently receiving attention worldwide with the aim of ameliorating its devastating consequences on environment and people whose livelihoods are affected. The study investigated how crop farmers in Benue State of Nigeria perceive climate change and adapt to variations in climate factors. Primary data were collected from a sample of 345 crop farmers and analyzed using descriptive statistics and inferential statistics using the multinomial logit regression model. The results showed that farmers perceived climate changes in rainfall (100%), temperature (91.4%), hot day (98.6%), sunshine hours (88.7%) and wind speed (52.2%). The major effects of these variations were found to be increased farm labour (85.6%), uncontrolled weeds (82.3%) and the effects of these variations as reduced loss crop yield, loss of farm land and increased cost of production (81.7%). Important adaptation measures found to be used by farmers to mitigate the effects of climate change were planting of improved varieties (89.4%), planting different crops (94.4%), changing farm size (80.7%), use of fertilizers (73.7%) and changing planting dates (82.3%). Results of the multinomial logit regression model indicated that farmers social economic characteristics, such as age, access to credit, income, education, household size and farming experience significantly influenced the probability of farmers choice of adaptation measures. The study recommends that government policies should ensure that farmers have access to affordable credit, education, proactive extension services and larger farm size as these variables positively and significantly influenced the likelihood of farmers adaptation in order to increase their ability and flexibility to change production strategies in response to perceived climate change and improve their productivity.
Keywords: Climate change and variability, crop farmers’ perceptions and adaptation, adaptation measures, adaptive capability