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Change and Adaptation in Socio-Ecological Systems

Climate Change, Social Changes, Technological Development

Ed. by Inostroza, Luis / Fürst, Christine

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Smallholder farmer’s perceived effects of climate change on crop production and household livelihoods in rural Limpopo province, South Africa

Nomcebo R. Ubisi
  • School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Private Bag X01, Scottsville, Pietermaritzburg 3209, South Africa
  • Other articles by this author:
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/ Paramu L. Mafongoya
  • School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Private Bag X01, Scottsville, Pietermaritzburg 3209, South Africa
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  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Unathi Kolanisi
  • School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Private Bag X01, Scottsville, Pietermaritzburg 3209, South Africa
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/ Obert Jiri
  • Corresponding author
  • Faculty of Agriculture, University of Zimbabwe, P. O. Box MP167, Mt Pleasant, Harare, Zimbabwe
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Published Online: 2017-04-21 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/cass-2017-0003


This study investigated the perceived effects of climate change on crop production and household livelihoods of smallholder farmers in Mopani and Vhembe district, South Africa. Data was collected through a questionnaire administered to 150 smallholder farmers. The questionnaires were complemented by 8 focus group discussions and secondary data. Multinomial logit regression model was used to analyse the factors influencing smallholder farmers’ choice of climate change adaptation strategies. The study findings revealed that subsistence farmers perceived prolonged droughts (56.4%) as the main shock stressing crop production. Droughts often lead to low crop yield and high crop failure (73.3%). In response to the prevailing climatic conditions different gender adopted different strategies, 41% of female farmers adapted by changing planting dates, while male farmers employed crop variety and diversification (35%) and mixed cropping (15%). The smallholder farmers were vulnerable with limited adaptive capacity to withstand climate change due to compromised social, human, physical, natural and financial assets. The results showed that smallholder farmers tend to adapt better when they have access to extension officers (P<0.01). Therefore, it is important for the government to strengthen the relationship between smallholder farmers and extension officers for better climate change adaptation.

Keywords: Smallholder farmers; climate change; adaptation; livelihoods; food security


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About the article

Received: 2016-09-12

Accepted: 2017-01-02

Published Online: 2017-04-21

Published in Print: 2017-01-01

Citation Information: Change and Adaptation in Socio-Ecological Systems, Volume 3, Issue 1, Pages 27–38, ISSN (Online) 2300-3669, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/cass-2017-0003.

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© 2017. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. BY-NC-ND 4.0

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