Smallholder Farmers’ Adaptation to Climate
Change and Determinants of their Adaptation
Choices in Hobicha, Southern Ethiopia
Maeregu Asrat and Barana Babiso*
1Department of Geography & Environmental Studies, Wolaita Sodo University, Ethiopia
Submission: September 01, 2020; Published: September 08, 2020
*Corresponding author: Barana Babiso, Department of Geography & Environmental Studies, Wolaita Sodo University, Ethiopia
How to cite this article: Maeregu A, Barana B. Smallholder Farmers’ Adaptation to Climate Change and Determinants of their Adaptation Choices in
Hobicha, Southern Ethiopia. Agri Res & Tech: Open Access J. 2020; 25 (1): 556291. DOI: 10.19080/ARTOAJ.2020.25.556291
Different evidences indicate that climate of the earth was changed and continuously changing. Thus, this study investigates the adaptation strategies of smallholder farmers and its factors that influence the choice of farmers’ in Hobicha woreda, Wolaita zone, Southern Ethiopia. The data was collected from 137 sample households using a survey questionnaire and was analyzed using both descriptive statistics and econometric methods. The multivariate probit model was used to examine the adaptation strategies and the determinant factors that influence farmers’ choice of the adaptation strategies respectively. The adaptation strategies considered in the MVPM model analysis were crop selection (49.6%), cropping calendar (61.3%), crop diversification (57.7%), soil and water conservation practices (45.3%) and irrigation (8.8%). In addition, the MVPM analysis showed that gender, age, educational status, farm size, Soil fertility, distance from the market center, agroecology, access to climate information and access to credit of the households are significant factors influencing the smallholder farmers’ adaptation strategies. Therefore, strengthening the farmers’ adaptive capacity to climate change is important policy implication.
Keywords:Climate change, Adaptation strategies, Multivariate Probit Model and Hobicha Woreda
Agriculture constitutes the backbone of least developing countries ‘economies and is a major
contributor to the gross domestic product (GDP). Most of poor people particularly smallholder farmers in least developing countries live in rural areas, where they depend, directly or indirectly, on agriculture for the livelihood. Ethiopia is one of the least developing counties in which agriculture is the main source of the country‘s economy and smallholder farmers are the drivers of many economies in Ethiopia even though their potential is often not brought forward. They are farmers owning small-based plots of land less than 0.9 hectares per farm household on which they grow subsistence crops and one or two cash crops relying almost exclusively on family labor . According to  the share of agriculture to Ethiopian economy during the Fiscal Year 2017/18 was 34.9 percent. The sector contributed 16.5 percent to GDP growth. This was due to a high increase in crop production of smallholder farmers which increased by 4.7 percent as compared to previous year performance. The rising of agricultural production of smallholder farmers at the national level leads to improve overall economic growth and development. This indicates that
the sector is expected to have a base and primary determinant for the growth and transformation plan of the country. However, the issue of climate change stands at the side of smallholder farming agriculture. The reason is clear and straightforward. In addition to socioeconomic challenges, such as endemic poverty, conflicts, limited access to capital and global markets; the change in climate is probably the most complex and challenging environmental problem facing the world today.
To minimize the impact of climate change on smallholder farmers‘, adaptation strategy is vital
instrument. The past studies argued that one way of reducing the vulnerability and severity of climate change impacts is through adaptation. Without adaptation, climate change is generally detrimental to the agriculture; but with adaptation, vulnerability can largely be reduced [3-6]. Accordingly, most study have been done in Ethiopia by different authors such as [7-9] and others focusing the Nile Basin as a case study repeatedly by changing its methodology for the need of identifying the dominant agro ecological based adaptation strategies of smallholder farmers to the changing climate. However, there is no strong evidence for
aggregating their findings across the country. In addition, the
study did not examine effective agro ecological based adaptation
strategies and the determinant factors that influence farmers’
choice of the adaptation strategies in response to climate change
sufficiently by using multivariate probit model. As a result, there
is mismatch between the responses which is taken by smallholder
farmers to reduce the adverse effect of climate change on crop
production and the rate at which climate is changing in the study
area. Hence, this study investigates the adaptation strategies of
smallholder farmers and its factors that influence farmers’ choice
in Hobicha woreda.
The study was conducted in the Hobicha woreda, which is one
of the 22 woredas located in Wolaita Zone. The woreda is located
between 06042ʹ11ʹʹN to 06049ʹ20ʹʹN latitude and 37045ʹ56.4ʹʹE
to 38005ʹ16Eʹʹ longitudes. According to , the administrative
center of Hobicha woreda, Bada town, is located at a distance of
18km away to the direction of North from Abela Abaya, 22 km
away to the direction of South from Damot woyde, 27 km away
to the direction of Northwest from Sidama zone (specially Loka
Abaya woreda), 18Km away to the direction of Southeast from
Sodo Zuria woreda, 21 Km South east from Humbo woreda .
The study applied mixed research design which includes both
quantitative and qualitative approach. The data related to the type
of adaptation strategies used by smallholder farmers’ in response
to climate change and variability and the factors that influence
farmers’ choice of adaptation strategies to climate change in the
study area was obtained from both primary and secondary sources.
The primary data was obtained from the smallholder farmers
through questionnaire, personal interview and FGD which ensure
the consistency and accuracy of the primary data obtained through
questioners. Secondary data were collected from published and
unpublished agriculture official sources, books, journals and
research reports. Hobicha woreda was selected purposely and two
sample Kebeles (Hobicha Borkoshe from midland and Ello Erasho
from lowland) were selected randomly based on agro-ecology.
Out of the total HHs in sample kebeles, 137 samples were selected,
in order to make representative samples by using Kothari, 2004
Methods of data analysis
Both descriptive and inferential statistics method was
employed to analyze the data collected from the sample
households. The qualitative data obtained through key informant
interviews, focus group discussion and the reports of woreda
offices were compiled, organized, summarized and analyzed using
Multivariate Probit Regression Model Specification
Smallholder farmers are more likely to adopt a mix of
adaptation strategies to deal with a multitude of climate change
impact than adopting a single strategy. Because a single equation
statistical model on climate change adaptation strategies does
not modify the likelihood of his/her adopting another adaptation
strategies. In this study the dependent variables for adaptation
strategies written as
Where j = is adaptation strategies that selected byith
Smallholder farmers in the study area.
Sallholder farmers are using multiple strategies simultaneously
for climate change adaptation. The proposed methodology would
derive insight on the smallholder farmer’s socio-economic factors
that lead to their implementation of different adaptation options.
This implies that farmers irrespective of their age, sex, education,
etc used specific type of climate change adaptation options.
However, the choices among the adaptation strategies are not
mutually exclusive as farmers are using more than one adaptation
strategies at the same time and therefore the random error
components of the adaptation choice may be correlated. So that
using a multivariate probit model, which allows for the possible at
the same time correlation in the choice to access the five different
adaptation strategies simultaneously. Mathematically the model
can be specified as follows
Where, i = farmer ID number, Yi1= 1, if farmer use crop
selection (0 otherwise), Yi2= 1, if farmer use cropping calendar (0
otherwise), Yi3=1, if farmer use crop diversification (0 otherwise),
Yi4 = 1, if farmer use Soil and water conservation (0 otherwise) and
Yi5 = 1, if farmer use irrigation(0 otherwise).
The Multivariate Probit (MNP) model was written as follows.
Where Yij (j =1… 5) represent the five different adaptation
option (strategies) faced by the ith, Xij is a 1× k vector of observed
variables that affect the adaptation choice decision of farmer βj is
a k ×1 vector of unknown parameters (to be estimated), and εi is
the unobserved error term. Assuming the error terms (across i =
1 … m alternatives) are multivariate and are normally distributed
with mean vector equal to zero, the unknown parameters in
Equation (2) are estimated using simulated maximum likelihood.
Investigating adaptation strategies used by smallholder
Out of the total sample households surveyed, 72.3 % of the
respondents were male headed and 27.7% of the respondents and
were female headed. The survey results revealed that both male
and female headed households were adopting climate change
adaptation strategies to reduce its impact. As indicated in survey
data the maximum age of the household heads was 82 years and
the minimum experience being 24 years with the average age of
48 years. The study result revealed that age is an important factor
and significantly affecting farmer’s adoption of climate change
adaptation strategies. The survey result also indicates that the farm
size of the sampled households ranges from 0.25 to 0.9 hectares
with an average size of 0.55 hectares. In addition, 63.5% of the
respondents had access to information on the issue of climate
change and its effect, whereas 36.5% reported the opposite. The
farmers were also asked whether they have perceived changes
in the rainfall and temperature or not in their locality area. As
indicated in the graph below shows about 17.52% and 80.29% of
the respondents perceived that there is an increment in the level
of rainfall and temperature in their local area while about 82.48%
and 19.71% of the respondents had perceived a reduction in the
level of the rainfall and temperature respectively.
In line with this, the smallholder farmers in the study area are
more likely to adopt a number of adaptation strategies to reduce
the adverse effect of climate induced risks and constrains than
adopting a single strategy in the study area. The climate change
adaptation strategies for smallholder farmers in the study area
were selected by asking sample households the actions they take
to reduce the adverse effect of climate change on crop production.
The survey result indicates that, farmers have adopted different
adaptation strategies like crop selection, cropping calendar, crop
diversification, soil and water conservation practice and irrigation.
Their responses were indicated in Table 1.
Adjusting cropping calendar: in the above table, about
61.31% of the sampled households were used adjusting cropping
calendar as an adaptation strategy to reduce the adverse effects
of climate change on crop production in the study area. This
strategy is the most frequently used by respondent farmers in
the study area because farmers easily adopt this strategy if they
have information about changes in climate. This is in line with ,
where farmers in Central Africa (Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea and
Central African Republic) noted that adjusting cropping calendar
as adaptation strategy towards the changing climate.
Crop diversification (varieties): about 57.66% of the
respondents were used crop diversifications as the second most
dominant adaptation strategy to adapt the adverse effect of climate
change on crop production systems. Farmers reported to recover,
multiply and use a different variety of crops (like Maize, sorghum,
teff, haricot bean and barley varieties), which are supposed to
have drought resistant and early maturing variety. The study also
revealed that farmers diversify crop types as a way of spreading
risks on the farm. This is in line with the finding of [12-14] where
they found crop diversification is a major adaptation strategy to
reduce the adverse effects of climate change.
Soil and water conservation: considering the magnitude of
the moisture stress in the woreda, soil and water conservation
techniques has got special attention by farmers to reduce the
adverse effects of climate change and serve to increase on-farm
yields. About 45.25% of sampled household prefer and used soil
and water conservation practice. This is in agreement with the
findings of [15,16] they found that soil and water conservation
measures as adaptation strategy to reduce the adverse effects of
climate change. However, its adoption level is low as compared
with the other strategies because farmers with small farm and
labor size could not easily adopt soil and water conservation
measures as adaptation strategy.
Irrigation: In the study area 8.8% of the respondent farmers
used irrigation as an adaptation strategy to respond to the adverse
effect of climate change. It provides large comparative advantage
to those farmers to produce different horticultural crops such as
tomato, onion, pepper, head cabbage, carrot, potatoes, sweet and
potato to cope up the impact that climate change imposes on their
livelihood. In general, the descriptive analysis result revealed
that sampled households of the study area respond to change in
climate stresses by using mutually inclusive adaptation strategies
such as crop selection, cropping calendar, crop diversification, soil
and water conservation measures and irrigation by giving priority
as climate change major adaptation strategies. Similarly, members
of focus group discussion (FGD) in two Kebeles confirmed that
farmers adopt different kinds of adaptation strategies to reduce
the negative consequences of climate change so as to improve
Determinant factors that influence farmers’ choice of
the adaptation strategies
This section discusses the results from the multivariate
probit model. The likelihood ratio test (chi2 (10) = − 302.81,
Wald (χ2 (70)) test = 123.76 and P = 0.000 of the independence
of the error terms of the different adaptation equations in table 3.
Thus, this study adopts the alternative hypothesis of the mutual
interdependence among the multiple adaptation strategies.
According to mvprobit model output in the table 3, the results of
the correlation coefficients of the error terms are significant for any
pairs of equations indicating that they are correlated. The results
on correlation coefficients of the error terms indicate that there
is complementarily (positive correlation) and substitutability
(negative correlation) between different adaptation strategies
being used by smallholder farmers. The results support the
assumption of interdependence between the different adaptation
strategies, which may be due to complementarily in the different
adaptation strategies and from omitted household-specific, and
other factors that affect uptake of all the adaptation strategies.
The simulated maximum likelihood estimation results
suggested that there was positive and significant interdependence
between household decisions to use of soil and water conservation
and using crop selection, and using crop diversification, coping
calendar and irrigation. It also suggested that there was negative
and significant interdependence between household decisions
to use of soil and water conservation and crop selection, using
crop selection and crop diversification, using soil and water
conservation and coping calendar, and using irrigation and crop
diversification. The result of multivariate Probit (mvprobit)model
shows that the likelihood of households to adopt crop selection,
coping calendar, crop diversification, soil and water conservation
and irrigation were 49.6%, 61.31%, 57.7%, 45.3% and 8.8%,
respectively. The result also shows that the joint probability
of using all adaptation strategies was 5.0918% and the joint
probability of failure to adopt all of the adaptation strategies was
only 0.02%. The model results suggest that different household,
socio-economic and farm characteristics are significant in
determining the households’ decisions to choose climate change
adaptation strategy. Therefore, the results of the multivariate
Probit (mvprobit) model indicated that gender of household
head, age of household head, agro-ecology, education status of
household head, access to credit, access to climate information,
farm land size of household, distance from market center and soil
fertility are significantly affect the smallholder farmers’ choice of
climate change adaptation strategies in the study area. The result
therefore supports the use of multivariate probit model. The
significant factors are presented in the table 2 as follows:
Gender of the household head: The result of the mvprobit
model indicates that the gender of household head is significantly
and positively affects adaptation of crop diversification and soil
and water conservation at 5% significance level to reduce the
shocks of climate change. The positive coefficients for gender
variable shows male household head increases the probability
of using soil and water conservation and crop diversification
as adaptation strategy to climate change. These indicate that
male-headed households adapt more readily to climate change
and implement high labor and capital-intensive adaptation
strategy than female headed households. This result is in line
with that of [17-19]; they found that male-headed household
has a higher probability of using soil and water conservation and
crop diversification than female headed households. However,
gender of the household head is significantly and negatively
affects adaptation of crop selection at 5% significance level. The
negative coefficients for gender variable show that female-headed
households are more likely to take up crop selection as climate
change adaptation strategies. This finding is in contrast with the
findings of  and , where gender is significantly affecting
the adoption of adaptation strategies.
Age of household head: Age of the household head is a key
variable affecting the use of crop selection, crop diversification,
cropping calendar, soil and water conservation positively and
significantly at 5% significance level. An increase in the age
of a household head increases the use of crop selection, crop
diversification, cropping calendar and soil and water conservation
as an adaptation strategy to reduce the impact of climate change.
This is because as the age of farmer increases, also the farming
experience of the household head increases, the farmer is likely
to acquire more experience in weather forecasting and that
helps increase in likelihood of practicing adaptation strategies.
Experienced farmers are more likely to have more information
and knowledge on changes in climatic conditions than younger
farmers. This result is in contrast with the result of  and
found that age of the household is significantly and positively
related to the adoption of crop selection, cropping calendar, crop
diversification and soil and water conservation measures.
Educational status of household head: The mvprobit model
result reveal that literate of farmers has positive and significant
effect on the likelihood of using crop selection and soil and water
conservation as an adaptation strategies at 5% significance
level. The use of crop selection and soil and water conservation
practices by farmers who were literate is likely to be greater than
farmers who were illiterate. This suggests that being literate
would improve access to information, capable to interpret the
information, easily understand and examine the situation better
than illiterate farmers. This result is in support of the findings
of  found that the level of education influence farmers’ choice
of using crop selection and soil and water conservation as an
Farm size of the household: The result of the model indicates
that farm size of the household has positive and significant effect on
the likelihood of using crop diversification practices as adaptation
strategies to reduce the negative effect of climate change at 5%
significance level. This implies that large farm size increases the
likelihood of using crop diversification to reduce climate change
impact. This result is also in line with the findings of  and .
Soil fertility: The coefficient of soil fertility is positive and
statistically influencing the choice of irrigation as an adaptation
strategy at 1% significance level. The farmers with fertile soil have
more probability of using irrigation as an adaptation strategy
to climate change compared with the farmers with infertile soil
because fertile soils are more productive than infertile soils.
Distance from the market center: The result of the model
indicates that distance from the market center is positively and
significantly related to use of crop selection, crop diversification
and soil and water conservation practice as an adaptation strategies
to reduce the impact of climate change at 5% significance level.
Proximity to market is an important determinant of crop selection,
crop diversification and soil and water conservation practices as
adaptation strategy, most probably reason the market serves as a
means of exchanging information with other farmers. Moreover,
access to inputs and transportation will be high for households
far from a given market. Hence being more far from market center
decreases the use of crop varieties or planting different crops as
an adaptation strategy, because better access to markets enables
farmers to obtain information on climate change and other
important inputs they may need. This result is consistent with the
finding of  and .
Agroecology: The results of this analysis indicate that
agroecology of the households is positively and significantly affect
the adoption levels of crop selection, soil and water conservation
at 5% and irrigation at 1% significance level as an adaptation
strategies to reduce the adverse effect climate change on crop
production. This implies that the households in the lowland
agroecology have high probability of using crop selection, soil
and water conservation and irrigation to reduce climate change
impact. This is in consistent with  who compared the farmers
between kola and woyna-dega agro ecological zones and found
that the adaptation status of respondents in woyna-dega agro
ecological zone are relatively lower than kola due to low intensity
of climate related impacts in woyna-dega agro-ecological zones
Access to climate information: It has a significant and
positive impact on soil and water conservation at 5% significance
level. This is because the farmers having more information about
climate change related information have greater probability of
using soil and water conservation compared to farmers who
have no access to climate related information. This is in line with
 and  they found that access of information on climate,
influences farmers’ to choice soil and water conservation measure
as an adaptation strategy.
Access to credit: The model result shows that access to
credit for smallholder farmers has positive and significant effect
on the likelihood of using crop selection, crop diversification, soil
and water conservation and irrigation at 5% significance level
and cropping calendar at 10% significance level as adaptation
strategies. The farmers to introduce new technology, to buy
modern crop, fertilizers and oxen, can use credit. Moreover, access
to affordable credit facilities is likely to ease cash constraints and
allow households to invest in production inputs for climate change
adaptation. This is in consistent with the findings of [7,8,29] they
found that access to credit increases financial resources of farmers
and their ability to meet transaction costs associated with various
adaptation options they might want to adopt.
This study was intended to examine climate change adaptation
strategies of smallholder farmers in Hobicha woreda, Wolaita
zone, southern Ethiopia. The results revealed some information
about smallholder farmers’ adaptation strategies to climate
change and the determinant factors that influence farmers’
choice of the adaptation strategies. The result from multivariate
probit regression model shows that farmers have adopted
different strategies like crop selection, cropping calendar, crop
diversification, soil and water conservation practice and irrigation
to reduce the consequences of climate change so far and to
manage future patterns in climate change. However, gender, age,
educational status, farm size, soil fertility, distance from the market
center, agro-ecology, access to climate information and access to
credit of the households are considered as the major determinant
factors that influence farmers’ choice of the adaptation strategies
of smallholder farmers in response to climate change in the study
area. In addition, some of the sample respondents in this study
area have not taken adaptation measures to climate change due to
different barriers. Therefore, strengthening the farmers’ adaptive
capacity to climate change is important policy implication and any
concerned bodies should take in to consideration identification
of agro ecological based effective adaptation strategies of
smallholder farmers and the determinant factors that influence
farmers ‘choice of the adaptation strategies in to their climate
change adaptation strategy.
First and for Most the authors given thanks to the Heavenly God
for his presence in all those ups and downs. The authors gratefully
acknowledge support from Wolaita Zone Administration office. We
are also immensely grateful to sampled Kebeles, the community
in general and the informants in particular for providing all
necessary information. We hereby declare that all the information
and statements made in this research are true and accept that any
misinterpretation contained in it may be our obstructions.
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