Adaptations to climate change and variability by subsistence farmers in Mukoto Subcounty, Namisindwa district, Eastern Uganda
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The agricultural sector is the major source of livelihood to rural communities in Uganda but it is currently faced by climate change as a major challenge. The study investigated the adaptations to climate change and variability by subsistence farmers in Mukoto Sub County and its main aim was to generate information that will promote climate change adaptation strategies that will enhance resilient, productive and sustainable agricultural systems. The study had three specific objectives’ which were; (i) To identify the effects of drought and flooding on the farmers of Mukoto Sub county, (ii) To assess the present agricultural practices being used by local farmers to adapt against drought and flooding and hailstorms. (iii)To establish the factors that influence small holder farmers’ adaptation decisions. Data will be collected through focus group discussions and a household survey using structured questionnaire. Data was analyzed from 56 respondents from randomly selected households in purposefully selected parishes of Mukoto Sub County. The data was analyzed using multiple regression models because of its multiple response nature. The results indicated reduced yields (87.3%) and outbreak of pests (81.8%) as the most felt effect of flooding and drought in the Sub County respectively, application of foliar fertilizers (81%) and agroforestry (78%) as the most agricultural practice used by farmers to adapt against drought and flooding in the Sub County exchange of information between farmers as the most factor which influences farmers adaptation choices. According to the information from focus group interviews, prolonged and periodic Elinino rains cause flooding in people’s gardens, roads and even homes. This brings destruction to crops and peoples properties leaving them poor and food insecure. Droughts cause crop failures especially vegetables which are very sensitive to temperature changes like onions. In Mukoto Sub County Namisindwa district, climate change is a pressing problem, which is beyond the capacity of smallholders to respond to autonomously. Farmers’ capacity to choose effective adaptation options is influenced by household demography, as well access to information from local leaders, use of indigenous knowledge, information from fellow farmers ,training by extension workers, education programs on radios and information from research institutions. This implies the need to support the indigenous adaptation strategies of the smallholder farmers with a wide range of institutional, policy, and technology support; some of it targeted on smaller, poorer or female-headed households. Moreover, creating opportunities for non-farm income sources is important as this helps farmers to engage in those activities that are less sensitive to climate change.