The role of climatic scenarios in farmers’ adjustments to climatic variations in northern Nigeria
AbstractIrregular rainfall is the primary reason for severe crop yield reductions in the Sahel of West Africa, with sometimes very serious consequences for society and national economies. To that extent recent drought events in the Sahel have overprinted their rhythms, causing widespread dislocation to human beings and their economic activities. Accordingly, this study provides a procedure for predicting future crop yield trends using scenarios of climatic events. In the process, models which relate rainfall to agricultural yields were constructed for three sites in Northern Nigeria.
The models were constructed for a 17-year period spanning 1969-1985, the severe drought years. In all cases, the model input variables were rainfall and crop yield data. All the models were tested for their predictive capabilities using crop yield data for 1986-2006. In order to assess the potential effects of drought on agricultural yields in the West African Sahel, the study created scenarios of future climatic changes based on arbitrary data and analogues of historical climatic data. The results indicated that a possible climatic change which involves up to 50% reduction in the
mean rainfall for locations in the West African Sahel will reduce yields substantially and in many cases could lead to total crop failure. The study concludes that scenario experiments are useful tools in guiding farmers on adjustment options during drought events. Additionally, supplementary irrigation schemes must be pursued vigorously by all stakeholders if farming is to remain lucrative in the region.