African Journal of
Agricultural Research

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Agric. Res.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1991-637X
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJAR
  • Start Year: 2006
  • Published Articles: 6863

Full Length Research Paper

Farmers’ perception on climate change in Sokoto State, Nigeria

Umar I.
  • Umar I.
  • Department of Agricultural Technology, College of Agriculture and Animal Science, Bakura, Zamfara State, Nigeria.
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Isah A. D
  • Isah A. D
  • Department of Forestry and Fisheries, Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, Nigeria.
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A. G. Bello
  • A. G. Bello
  • Department of Agricultural Extension, Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, Nigeria
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B. Z. Abubakar
  • B. Z. Abubakar
  • Department of Agricultural Economics and Extension, Usmanu Danfodiyo University Sokoto, Nigeria
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  •  Received: 25 June 2014
  •  Accepted: 11 March 2015
  •  Published: 12 March 2015


The study examined farmer’s perception on changes in climate variables in Sokoto State. Eight local government areas in Sokoto East senatorial district were purposively selected due to their vulnerability to climatic changes. Proportionate sampling was employed to select the eight villages. A total of two hundred and twenty three (223) questionnaires were administered. Descriptive statistics was used to analyze socio-economic characteristics of the farmers. ANOVA was used to test the significant differences between climatic variables in ten years. The results indicated that majority of the respondents (67.9%) agreed that rain normally starts by April-May and that the month of August had the highest amount of rainfall; and 2010 recorded the highest amount of rainfall in ten years from 2000-2010. It was evident from the results that the highest dry spell was recorded in 2011. 56.1% of the respondents perceived that August was the period of lowest temperature (31.97°C) and 20.6% reported that the year 2008 had the highest temperature (36.91°C)  in ten years, from 2000-2010. Farmers were aware of the increased change in the climatic indices. It is recommended that farmers need to be sensitized on the importance of afforestation programme to mitigate climate change.


Key words: Perception, climate change, climate variables.


Climate change is a change in the statistical distribution of weather over long periods of time that ranges from decades to millions of years (Cramer et al., 2001). This usually refers to changes in the climatic variables such as temperature, rainfall, wind and humidity. The continuous increase in atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide due to the release of gasses from the continuous burning of fossil fuel by human activities is predicted to lead to significant change in climate (Cox et al., 2000) more generally known as "global warming". Developed countries are responsible for most of the causes of this phenomenon that affects the developing countries of the world. For example Africa, with about 25% of the world’s arable land, contributes only 10% to the global agricultural output (Jayaram et al., 2010).  The increased frequency, intensity and magnitude of drought and floods have adversely impacted food and water security, water quality, energy and sustainable livelihoods of rural communities in the study area (AAI, 2006).
People   have   perceived   changes    in    rainfall    and temperature patterns over the years on evidences of climate change, the area south of the Sahara are worst hit. Mendelsohn et al. (2006) found that farmers’ perception on climate change as affected by an increase in temperature; reduced intensity and distribution of rainfall in many African countries has improved.
Adger et al.(2007) perception on climate change showed that a significant number of farmers believe that temperature has already increased and that rainfall pattern has declined for African countries leading to low yield of agricultural crops, less vegetation for livestock and water for irrigation. Due to the limited water resources agricultural policies play a vital role in agricultural water management. Africa has the most population growth in the world while, the actual yield as percentage of potential yield is 40% for North Africa, and 30% for Sub-Saharan Africa (FAO 2012). Africa needs specific attention; Namara, et al. 2010, mentioned the role of agricultural water management as a panacea to reduce poverty in the world.
Valipour (2012) working in North Africa mentioned the status of irrigation and rain-fed agriculture in the world and summarized the advantages and disadvantages of irrigation system, and attempt to update irrigation information. The result shows that 46% of cultivated areas in the world are not suitable for rain-fed agriculture because of climate changes and other metrological conditions. The value of irrigation equipped areas as share of cultivated areas was 5.8% and value of water management areas as share of cultivated areas was 6.7% for Africa. Burney et al. (2013) argued favorably on the impact of investment in agricultural water management for green revolution in Africa, claiming that poverty was significantly reduced in irrigation equipped area than in rain fed areas. Frank et al. (2008) examined developing capacity for agricultural water management in current practices and future directions, and suggested increased attention to monitoring and evaluation of capacity development and closer link to emerging work on water governance. Wheater and Evans (2009) studies relationship between land use, water management and future flood risk, their study mentioned that apart from irrigation issue, water related implications of climate change for future land use remain relatively unexplored. To conserve usable water resources, land uses which increase evapotranspiration or rapid run off should be discouraged, particularly in the south and east, there is need for continuous efforts to maintain good chemical water gravity in rivers, and ground water resources constrains will limit opportunities to use irrigation as a counter to climate change, which in turn will influence where irrigation production can be located (Weatherhead and Howden 2009).
Ozon and Aisharif (2013) showed home owners irrigated more to meet the water need of their farmlands despite the restrictions imposed by their local government. Characteristics of land tenure and use policy during 30 years of small irrigation system operations in Niger have enhanced beneficiary incentives and project sustainability. Tilman et al. (2012) studied agricultural sustainability and intensive production practices. The use of new incentives and policies for ensuring the sustainability of agriculture and ecosystem services would be crucial to meet the demands of improving yields without compromising environmental integrity. Viata (2008) assessed water management in agriculture successfully using FAO database. 
A close look at the historic weather records of Maiduguri (1986-1996) showed that rural people though not literate, have good knowledge of the changes in the climatic variables (Mendelsohn et al., 2005). The mean atmospheric temperature of the area has been on the increase since 1986 with low humidity. They also observed that the little rainfall received has been associated with flooding. Darkoh (1998) also reported climate change and variability in the Sahel region, and on the causes of desertification in the dry land of Africa.  Similar observation had been reported by Kandji et al. (2006) on the climate change variability in the Sahel region and on the causes of desertification in dry land of Africa respectively. These observations also corroborate the scientific studies in general (IPCC, 2007). Thus climate change is already visible in the study area. While many factors continue to influence climate, human activities like overgrazing, coupled with bush burning and other forms of degradation of natural vegetation have become dominant forces (Darkoh, 1998.)


The study purposively considered eight local government areas of Gada, Wurno, Goronyo, Rabah, Illela, Gwadabawa, Isa, and Sabon Birni in Sokoto East. These areas are more prone to the effects of climate change. The number of villages and households in each local government are not the same; therefore thirty percent of the villages in each local Government were proportionately selected. A total of 223 questionnaires were administered.
Primary and Secondary data were collected: the primary data were collected using structured and open ended questionnaires on the socio- economic characteristics of the farmers and the level of farmer’s perception on climate change. Secondary data on rainfall, temperature, wind and humidity, were obtained from the Metrological Centre, Sokoto. The data collected were subjected to descriptive statistical analysis (frequency and percentages) to analyze socio- economic characteristics of the farmers. Descriptive statistics was also used to measure the perception and awareness of the farmers. ANOVA was used to test the significant difference between climate variables over 10 years.  Statistical package for social science (SPSS) was used for the analysis.


Socio-economic characteristics of the respondents
Table 1 showed that 26.0%  were within the  age range of  22-32 years,  36.7% of the  respondents were  within  the age  of  33-42 years; 17.3% of the farmers have attained the age range of 43-52, 14.7% of the farmers were 53-62 years of age, while 63-72 years of age range constituted 5.3% of the total respondents. Males formed the majority of the respondents with 99.1% and female the minority with 0.9%. This indicated that males dominate agricultural work force in the study area. It agrees with Adedoyin et al. (2005)  who reported that male folks dominated the agricultural workforce in Nigeria. The high proportion of males to females may be because religion and custom play crucial roles in the livelihoods of the study area. For instance, males who are mostly the household heads, have more access to land and participate more in out door activities than females. Majority of  the respondents  (98.6%)  in  the  area  reported  that  they  were   married, while (1.4%) were single. This indicated that majority of the respondents  have family responsibilities to cater for which affects their farming activities.
Source: Field Survey 2011.
The  result showed that  46.2% of the respondents  had family sizes in the range of 1-6, (46.2%) 7-12  (32.3%)  in  the range 13-18,  (3.9%) and  those with 19-25 members per household were 6.7%. On the educational level, it was reported that 30.8% of the respondents in the study area had primary education, 13.4% had secondary education, 8.5%  had tertiary education, 39.4% had quranic and 7.5% had adult education. The study showed that 63.6% of the farmers engaged in crop production, animal production 0.8% while other livelihood engagements including  crafts, trading and animal rearing was 35.4%. Most of the farmers (91.6%) were engaged in subsistence farming, while only few (8.3%) engaged in commercial agriculture. Farm size varied from 1 to 20 ha, with majority (38.6%)  having between 1 and 4 ha, while 35.5% had between 5 and 8 ha. About  56.9% of the farmers planted 1 to 40 kg of seeds, 17.1% of the farmers had planted between  41 to 80 kg per hectare.   
Yield obtained by the farmers ranged  between 233-230000 kg  of seed per ha. About 61.8% of the farmers harvested 200 to 4000 kg, 13.2% harvested 4001 to 8000 kg,  11.2%  had  8001 to 12000, while others recorded  20,001 to 23000 kg of seed  yield per hectare. Low levels of education, small farm sizes and low income in the selected communities had contributed to their vulnerability to climate change.
Farmers’ perception on climatic change
Table 2, showed that 67.9% of the respondents  agreed that rainfall starts by May, 32.2% believed that rain starts by June, while 0.8% maintained that rainfall starts by July. This indicated that the farmers are aware of the onset of rainfall. Information from the respondents revealed that drought causes stress to forest trees by affecting their life, most especially young  trees, the higher the temperature, the higher the evapotranspiration and the lower the availability of water to the plant which in turn affects young trees, Mangifera indica, and Psidium guajava experience low production during drought.  According to AAI (2006) from July to August every year, there were heavy rains,  the  dry season starts in October and last until May. Rainy season starts late, sometimes as late as June; December and January were extremely cold months with frequent fogs. Water collects in  rivers and ponds take longer time to dry up. Now they frequently dry up as early as November. ”Majority of the respondents (87.0%)  in the  area reported  that  August  had the highest amount of rainfall,  9.4%observed that  September had the highest amount while 3.6%  were undecided. 
The  result showed that  98.2% of the  respondents were of the view that 2010 had the highest amount of rainfall in ten years, and 1.8% were undecided. 67.2% of the respondents believed that 2011 was the year of highest  dry spell within ten years. 21.6% observed 2008 as the year of highest dry spell. While only 11.2%  were undecided, 63.2% of the respondents opined that May-September  had  the highest duration of rainfall, 35.8% pointed June –Septembet, and 0.9%  July-October as the highest duration of rainfall.
The study showed  that 17.9% of the respondents said that 2010 had prolong harmattan, while 82.1% were undecided. 43.9% of  the respondents  viewed January as the period of  low  temperature, while 56.1% observed low temperature between  December  to  January. 34.6%  of  the respondents  opined  that April was the  period of  highest   temperature,   while   64.4%   observed   highest temperature in April-May. 20.6% of  the respondents agreed  that  2008 had the highest  temperature, 7.6%  pointed to 2006, while 71.8%  were undecided. The climate record of Sokoto state from April- May 2000- 2010 indicated highest temperatures of 35.15-36.91°C, August 2000-2010 has the lowest rainfall of 42.88-95.55 mm. This implies that an increase in the average global temperature is very likely to cause death of livestock, agricultural and forest products. It can also lead to changes in precipitation and atmospheric moisture because of changes in atmospheric circulation and increases in evaporation. According to AAI (2006) rainfall and climate are affected by the mountain forest, and also partly by the Chiperoni Mountain in adjacent Mozambique. The climate is warm, hot and humid throughout most of the year, with annual temperature averaging 21-23°C and maximum temperatures around 32-35°C in the months of November and December. 
During the dry season (June to mid-August),  as  a result of wind coming from the Chiperoni mountains, the phalombe plains, south of the Mulanje experience cooler weather. During this period , temperature on mount  Mulanje occasionally drops to freezing  point. Tea estates located within several  kilometres of the southern  foot of mount Mulanje experience dry season,  rainfall and  occasional mists and fogs. At the Mimoso Tea Research station (5 km from the mountain and 650 m above the sea level ), the average annual rainfall is 1,626 mm, with 16% falling during the dry season (that is May to October). 41.1% of  the respondents  believed that changes in weather condition most especially temperature affects peoples health  as evidenced by widespread diseases such as malaria and high blood pressure,as well as stress to trees. 52.5%  of  the  respondents  agreed  that November- February had  the highest dust storms, 37.2% mentioned December-February, only 10.3%  pointed to November –December, as the highest dust storm period.
From the perspective of dust,  many people experience eye problems and  asthmatic attacks as one of the serious effect of dust storms. 55.2%  of the respondents showed that  November-January had the highest deposition of sand dune,  23.8% observed November-Febuary 2008 as the year  with highest deposition of sand dunes, while only 21.0% believed it to be the period between December- Febuary. 53.4%  of the  respondents  agreed  that October had the lowest amount  of  wind,  35.9%  agrued for August, 8.0%  indicated  May as the period of lowest wind speed, while 3.6% were undecided. 65.9%  of the respondents  agreed  that May had the highest amount of  wind, 22.9%  argued for June, while only 11.2% argued for July. Wind affect trees during flowering period and also destroy tree branches.  80.3%  of  the  respondents  agreed that  August  had the highest humidity, 8.5%  believed it to be July,  5.8%  argued for June, and only 5.4% proved to be undecided.
According  to some respondents  (59.2%)  the  lowest  humidity  was recorded in March 33.7%, in February, 4.4% in April and only 2.7% discovered May as the period of lowest humidity. This indicated that there were significant differences between climatic indices and perception of farmers in Sokoto state.
The data of the mean annual rainfall and temperature for the period of 10 years (Figure 1) revealed that August 2001 and 2010 had the highest amount of rainfall within ten years. 2010 had highest rainfall within a ten- year period. That climatic record of Sokoto state showed that 2010 had the highest amount of rainfall within eleven years. 2011 had the highest dry spell within ten years, majority of the farmers were aware of the year with prolong harrmattan.  From the perspective of temperature majority of the farmers believed that December-January had the lowest from 2001-2010, and April-May had the highest temperature.
The data of the mean annual wind and humidity for the period of 10 years (Figure 1) reveal that August had the highest humidity while March had the lowest humidity.  October had the lowest wind speed while May had the highest wind. This  indicates   that the  higher  the velocity of wind the higher its impact on livelihood (UNFCC, 2007).  The wind  speed are particularly critical to the success of  agricultural resources, which most negatively affects  sustainbility.  These results showed that both the perception of farmers and the climate records are in agreement.
According to AAI (2006) temperature data from the Mimosa Tea Research Foundation showed a steady increase in maximum and minimum temperatures over the past twenty years. From 1963-1986, the average maximum temperature howered around 28.5°C. The period between 1986 and 2006 saw an increase of over 1°C, with an average maximum temperature of 30.0°C. The minimum temperatures have shifted to a similar degree over  the  same period.


The results indicated that farmers were aware that the area is getting warmer  and drier with change in the time of rains. The implication is that farmers need to adjust their management practices to ensure that they make efficient use of the limited  rainfall and water resources for food production and other needs.


The authors have not declared any conflict of interest.


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