The impact of climate variability on societies around the world is increasingly evident. Kenya is one of the most vulnerable countries and economic sectors and livelihoods are already frequently experiencing the manifestations of the problem. Households engage in adaptation strategies in order to mitigate the negative effect of climate variability. The extent to which these effects are felt depends mostly on the level of adaptation in response to climate variability. A better understanding of the local dimensions of adaptation is therefore essential to develop appropriate response measures that can mitigate these adverse consequences. The general objective of this study was to contribute to knowledge and the enhancement of smallholder farmer response mechanisms to climatic variability for sustainable livelihoods and food security in Laikipia West Sub- County Kenya. Specifically was; to identify the adaptation strategies employed by households, to analyze factors influencing the choice of adaptation strategies by households and to determine the factors influencing willingness to pay for selected crop insurance as a response to climate variability. A multi- stage sampling technique was used to obtain a sample size of 392 households. A semi-structured questionnaire was used to collect primary data. Statistical Package for Social Scientists (SPSS) and STATA software were used for data analysis. Principal component analysis, Multivariate Probit, and Double bounded dichotomous choice model were used for data analysis. According to the results 63.11% of those who were willing to pay for insurance were male, 81.15% had formal education and 66.39 were pure farmers. The mean age of those willing to pay for insurance was 53.83 with mean household size of 6 people and mean land size of 4.96 acres. 44.26% had received weather information, 69.67% received extension services, 56.56% received credit and 77.05% were members to a group. The Multivariate Probit results indicate that; Male headed households, access to weather information, access to extension services, large land size and group membership had a positive impact on responding to climate variability through different strategies. Access to credit had a negative impact on use of crop risk reduction practices while household size, distance to market, occupation of household head, age of household head and agro ecology had mixed effects on adoption of different strategies. The mean willingness to pay without covariates was KSH 55923.38 and KSH 58552.22 with covariates. Occupation of household head and group membership had a positive effect on willingness to pay for crop insurance while access to extension services had a negative effect. Therefore, the study recommends stakeholders to develop policies geared towards massive campaign on the reality of climate change and its serious consequences on food production. This can be achieved through provision of meteorological reports and alerts to farmers in understandable forms. There is a need for investment in the provision of affordable and quality formal education, up to date, relevant demand-driven extension services that provide localized response solutions depending on the agro ecology. There is also need to invest in training about crop insurance and its importance as a response strategy.

Background information 
Africa’s population is projected to double by 2050, and globally food production will need to double in order to meet the needs of increasing urban populations. Urbanization is occurring rapidly in SSA, but large rural populations are projected for at least another generation (Lamboll et al., 2011). In SSA, greater areas of land are typically under range lands and are marginal for agriculture. Such areas are increasingly unable to support rain fed agriculture, due to challenges posed by climate variability and increasing population. 

Climate variability has come with a variety of changes in rainfall levels and distribution patterns, temperature intensities (African Technology Policy Studies Network [ATPS], 2013), wind speeds, extreme weather events like droughts and floods (Clark et al., 2006), and emerging pests and diseases (FAO, 2009). Mitigating and adapting to climate variability requires collective action of different stakeholders to derive multi-disciplinary approaches to address the situation. Research shows that a variety of climate variability adaptation forms (operational, technical, and financial) have been taken by diverse stakeholders (farmers, climate variability agencies and organizations, and governments) at local, regional and international levels (Smit and Skinner, 2002; Paradhan et al., 2015). These stakeholders have recognized the important role of agriculture in contribution to, and mitigation of climate variability. 

Farmers have diverse agricultural practices which include use of organic pesticides, agro - forestry (ATPS, 2013), use of local seeds which they believe are better adapted than exotic seeds, crop diversification, minimum tillage, mulching, collecting water in ponds and earth dams for irrigation, and changing their planting times based on rainfall forecasts (Paradhan et al., 2015). However, farmers are reactive dealing with short term challenges rather than being proactive to handle long term problems. This reactive behaviour can be attributed to low information access and low understanding of mitigation and adaptation options. 

Although not a universal remedy for adapting to climate variability, enabling smallholder farmers and related stakeholders to reduce their vulnerability to weather variability and adapt to climate variability would be important. Policymakers have been encouraged to consider insurance as part of response strategy by the Bali Action Plan. Formal risk management mechanisms include: agricultural insurance, minimum support price system and futures markets (Hardaker et al., 2004). Insurance can be an efficient risk management tool to cover losses arising from yield variability (Roberts, 2005). It has been offered to farmers since the 1920s (Smith and Watts, 2010). It involves insuring crops, livestock, forestry, aquaculture and green housing. Farmers can guard against negative effects of climate variability and stabilize their farm income through adopting agricultural insurance. Crop insurance helps to stabilize farm income and also helps the farmer to recover after experiencing losses due to a bad agricultural year. The major problem associated with insurance is the farmers’ willingness to pay the premium. According to Hiwot and Ayalneh, (2014) willingness to pay (WTP) is the amount that must be taken away from the person’s income while keeping his utility constant in the same manner, it is influenced by individual tastes and preferences, income attitudes and perceptions of the type of product as well as household, demographic characteristics (Canfield et al., 2003). 

In the recent past, there has been an increased fluctuations between floods and drought with the distribution and intensity changing leading to severe effects. The normal climatic and weather conditions have deviated greatly from normal patterns leading to more warmer and fewer cold days and nights; (IPCC, 2007). The effects of these changes have manifested in decreased crop yields, water logging, increased pest outbreaks and rampant soil erosion. Drought affected regions have become vulnerable to crop damage or failure, land degradation and increased livestock deaths due to dehydration and lack of forage. 

The ability of rural farmers to manage common systemic risks in the presence of more complex risks associated with climate variability definitely needs attention. In highly variable climates where any season can bring harsh conditions, farmers are generally reluctant to invest in more profitable technologies and practices (Hansen et al., 2015). This lack of investment, combined with climate variability leading to unpredictable yields, is a major factor in keeping farmers trapped in poverty. Compounding these issues, credit providers are reluctant to lend to smallholder farmers in such a high-risk environment, hence even if farmers want to invest in inputs such as seeds and fertilizers, they often cannot. 

Agro-pastoralism in Laikipia County is a production system based on crop production and livestock rearing that is characterized by mobility in an ecologically fragile environment, high degree of flexibility and variability. Livestock represent the major stores of wealth that utilize mobilized environment characterized by highly variable water resources and transient forage. However, over the past three decades agro-pastoralism has been faced with enormous problems as a result of extremes of climate variability. The threat that climate variability poses to agro -pastoralism has necessitated the assessment of the potential effects of climate variability at various scales in the sector in order to reduce vulnerability and secure livelihoods of those who depend on them (Chipanshi et al., 2003). 

High population growth rate has caused negative effects on the socio-economic development and aggravated the poverty situation in the county. Increased pressure on available resources has often degenerated into conflicts between the pastoral community, large-scale ranching enterprises, smallholder farmers and wildlife. Low productivity due to small land holds coupled with increased occurrence of droughts and extreme weather events has increased the severity of crop failure and land degradation. This has had a larger negative impact on the livelihoods of many local communities in the county. (Laikipia CIDP, 2013)

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Item Type: Kenyan Topic  |  Size: 73 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.


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