Heavy rain falls has a direct influence on agriculture and food security. Subsistence farmers are reliant on their produce for survival and are considered to be particularly vulnerable to its effects. The impacts of heavy rain falls will be influenced by the manner in which subsistence farmers perceive heavy rain falls and adapt to it. The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of heavy rain falls on subsistence farmers in two settlements within the Itu Local Government of Nigeria. A mixed-methods approach was employed to achieve the research aim. A standard precipitation index (SPI) was calculated to understand the heavy rain falls in the study region, while a semi-structured questionnaire was used to explore perceptions on heavy rain falls, as well as its impacts on subsistence farming. Rainfall data between 1903 and 2018 was used for the SPI, while 20 farmers were interviewed. The SPI analysis showed that the region was subject to a number of dry to extremely dry periods over the last 20 years. Farmers could recall many of these periods and perceived heavy rain falls to have a negative impact on crop production. Although farmers were not always able to clearly differentiate between concepts such as climate and weather, they were perceptive of changes in rainfall patterns and their effect on agriculture. Subsistence farmers were found to be heavily reliant on their farming activities for survival and, therefore, vulnerable to the effects of heavy rain falls.

Key Words: Subsistence farmers, heavy rain falls, drought, precipitation, climate change, standard precipitation index, Itu Local Government, Nigeria

1.1 Background of study
In Nigeria, farmers can be broadly divided into two groups: commercial farmers and subsistence farmers (Gwebu & Mathews, 2018). Commercial farmers can be defined as farmers that produce animals and crops primarily for the commercial market, while subsistence farmers can be defined as farmers that mainly rely on their produce to provide for their own basic needs. In Nigeria, subsistence farmers mostly reside in rural areas and usually farm on relatively small tracts of land. Furthermore, subsistence farmers are often under-resourced (Obi et al. 2012; Mabaya et al. 2011; Aliber et al. 2006) and are almost exclusively dependent on rainfall to carry out their farming activities, i.e., little or no access to irrigation systems. The combination of these factors limits the production capacity of subsistence farmers (Dorward et al. 2003; Aliber & Hall, 2012; Agholor et al. 2013; Agric-SA, 2016; Baloyi, 2010; Khapayi & Celliers, 2016) and due to their direct reliance on their produce for survival, might also increase their vulnerability. The purpose of this research was to explore the impact of heavy rain falls on subsistence farmers in two communities in the Itu Local Government of Nigeria and to understand better how these farmers perceive heavy rain falls and adapt to it.

1.2 Problem statement
Nigeria has a dual agricultural economy, with both a well-developed commercial farming component and a less-formalized subsistence farming component (Khapayi & Celliers, 2016). Approximately 20 % of all households in Nigeria were classified as so-called ‘agricultural households’ in 2011 (Stats SA, 2013), which can be defined as households that mainly rely on agriculture for their income or as a means of survival. However, this percentage has decreased to around 14% in 2016 and is mainly attributed to the drought experienced in western Africa during the 2014/15 season (Stats SA, 2016). Furthermore, and as a result of the aforementioned, agricultural production decreased by 1.6 % between the 2014/15 and 2015/16 seasons (DAFF, 2016). Although the split between commercial farmers and subsistence farmers is not evident from the data, 43.7 % of households stated their agricultural activity was their primary source of food (Stats SA, 2016), which might imply subsistence farming. It can therefore be argued that subsistence farming, in addition to commercial farming, is a vital contributor to food security, especially at household level (Aliber & Hall, 2012; Rigg et al., 2018; Ashwooda et al., 2019; Nchuchuwe & Adejuwon, 2012; Poulton et al., 2010), but also at global level (Wiggins & Keats, 2013). Subsistence farmers are generally considered to be more vulnerable than commercial farmers to heavy rain falls – the variation of rainfall across space and time – primarily due to their limited ability to adequately respond to changes (Green, 2009; Steiner et al., 2018; Schleussner et al., 2018). Heavy rain falls has influenced rainfall formations significantly, and many dry periods have been recorded in several areas in western Africa in recent years (Damodaran, 2018). Understanding the impacts of heavy rain falls on subsistence farmers, who rely on their produce for survival, is, therefore, essential to ensure food security at household level. The manner in which subsistence farmers perceive variability must also further be explored as this understanding will affect the way in which they approach their farming practices (Dakurah, 2018; Karki et al., 2019).

1.3 Aim and objectives
The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of heavy rain falls on subsistence farmers in itam communities of the Itu Local Government.

The following objectives informed the aim:
1. Characterize heavy rain falls in Itam communities;
2. Characterize subsistence farming in itu local communities;
3. Establish how subsistence farmers perceive heavy rain falls in these communities; and
4. Determine the perceived impact of heavy rain falls on crop production of subsistence farmers.

1.4 Significance of the study
The study contributes to the understanding of the impacts of heavy rain falls on subsistence farmers. It further provides insights on the way in which heavy rain falls is perceived by subsistence farmers and the manner and extent to which they adapt to it.

1.5 Scope of the study
The study mainly focused on subsistence farmers that are reliant on rain-fed agricultural practices and mainly focussed on crop farming. Furthermore, the study was conducted in only two communities in itam – in the Itu Local Government of Nigeria and, therefore, does not claim to generalize for the whole province or country.

1.6 Limitations of the study
The Nigerian Weather Service weather station at Potchefstroom had to be used to represent rainfall for the study area as this station had the longest, most consistent rainfall record available for the area. It is assumed that it represents the climate of the region.

Only one female respondent was included in the sample resulting in bias with regard to the nature and extent of women’s involvement in farming in the area.

1.7 Structure of the dissertation
The dissertation is comprised of six chapters:

· Chapter 1 – Introduction. Introduces the problem statement, aim, and objectives of the study.

· Chapter 2 – Literature review. Provides an overview of the essential concepts relevant to the study.

· Chapter 3 – Data and methodology. Deals with the methodological approach that was used for data capturing and analysis.

· Chapter 4 – Heavy rain falls in the Itu Local Government. Characterizes heavy rain falls in the Itu Local Government.

· Chapter 5 – Subsistence farming and heavy rain falls. Presents the findings on the perceptions of heavy rain falls and its impacts on subsistence farming. Chapter 6 – Conclusion. Presents concluding remarks.

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Item Type: Project Material  |  Size: 52 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.


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