Journal of
Agricultural Extension and Rural Development

  • Abbreviation: J. Agric. Ext. Rural Dev
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-2170
  • DOI: 10.5897/JAERD
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 489

Full Length Research Paper

Smallholder farmers perception on climate change in Rumphi District, Malawi

Chakufwa Kaulanda Munthali
  • Chakufwa Kaulanda Munthali
  • Ipas Malawi, Private Bag 20, Lilongwe, Malawi.
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Victor Kasulo*
  • Victor Kasulo*
  • Mzuzu University, Directorate of Research, P/Bag 201, Mzuzu 2, Malawi.
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Swithern Matamula
  • Swithern Matamula
  • Swithern Matamula, Mzuzu University, Department of Water Resources Management, P/Bag 201, Mzuzu 2, Malawi.
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  •  Received: 26 June 2016
  •  Accepted: 03 August 2016
  •  Published: 31 October 2016

Abstract

The effects and causes of climate change and variability have been a cause of controversy and debate for many years in many parts of the developing world. Perceptions vary about the effects and causes of climate change and variability. This study assessed smallholder farmers’ perceptions of climate variability and climate change adaptation in Bolero Community, Rumphi district in northern Malawi. Data were generated through a knowledge, attitude and practice survey using semi-structured interview and focus group discussions targeting 100 respondents in the study area. The data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and chi-square tests. The results revealed that 76% of the farmers that were interviewed perceived increased temperatures and 74% perceived decreased rainfall. Results on temperature were supported by meteorological data but rainfall data for Bolero area showed no significant changes overtime. Results, however, demonstrate increased awareness by smallholder farmers about the meaning of climate change and variability but are mixed on actual causes of this due to insufficient scientific knowledge. Some relate it to human activity while others associate it to traditional, cultural, and religious practices. Among the few who believe their own human activity contributes to the situation, they feel that easy access to markets, credit, water resources, irrigation services, tree seedlings and information on climate change, can motivate them to adopt coping and adaptation mechanisms to climate change and variability. Thus, it is important to improve the scientific knowledge of smallholder farmers in understanding the causes of climate change and variability through increasing the level of awareness among smallholder farmers about the impact and causes of climate change and variability. Furthermore, more programmes that motivate farmers to adopt coping and adaptation mechanisms in dealing with climate change and variability are needed. Such projects should consider cultural and traditional beliefs of smallholder farmers.

Key words: Adaptation, adoption, climate change, coping mechanism, Malawi, perception.