Agricultural Susceptibility to Climate Change in Varied Ecological areas of Northwest Ethiopia

Agricultural Susceptibility to Climate Change in Varied Ecological areas of Northwest Ethiopia

Menberu Teshome, PhD

Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, Debre Tabor University, Ethiopia, Po Box 272

American Journal of Agricultural Research

Agriculture is the most susceptible sector to climate change-induced hazards due to the fact that it affects the two most important direct agricultural production inputs, such as precipitation and temperature. Therefore, this study analyzed the susceptibility of agriculture to climate change in three purposively selected agro-ecological area of Northwest Ethiopia. The quantitative climate data were obtained from Global Weather Data for Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) from 1979 to 2010 while data on crop production and perception of households towards crop yield trend were collected using structured questionnaire complemented with informants’ interview and field observation. Analytical techniques such as simple regressions (SR), standardized precipitation index (SPI), one-way-analysis of variance (ANOVA), crop diversification index (CDI) and index of trend of yield (ITY) supported with descriptive statistics were used to analyze the data. The meteorology data reveal that climate is characterized by increasing annual temperature trend, greater inter-seasonal variation of rainfall, and alteration of wet and dry years in a periodic pattern over the past 32 years (1979 – 2010). Rainfall also showed decreasing tendency at a statistically non-significant trend. Huge unproductive land was reported in the fragile lowland (41 %) distantly followed by Dabat (21.32 %). These ecological contexts have worsened the susceptibility of agriculture to climate change-induced risks. The trend of crop yield stability index was found to be high in the fragile lowland against the official statistics. In fact, places located nearer to the sources of climatic risks continue to suffer from pervasive poverty. In conclusion, ecologically designed agricultural systems that can provide a buffer against extreme events need to be the primary concerns of the regional government to minimize climate change-induced risks thereby increasing resiliency of rural households. Local leaders should enforce green laws through integrated land management practices that enable to regulate the local climate; sequestrating carbon dioxide and reducing climatic risks (drought and flood). In this regard, research should be done to find heat-tolerant seeds and to resolve the contradictory reports of official yield statistics and rural households’ observations on crop yield trend.

Keywords: Agriculture, ecology, climate change, crop diversification, Northwest Ethiopia, susceptibility, trend of yield

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