Agronomy Research Expertise in Montpellier and Languedoc-Roussillon (South of France)

Agronomy : crops and cropping systems

Keywords :

Beninese farmers’ perceptions of climate change and their adaptation strategies

4. Preserving water resources

4. Preserving water resources

Negative impacts of adverse weather in the village of Alfakoara, northern Benin. © R. Dimon This research is focused on the adaptation of family agriculture to climate change. Based on the assumption that changes can best be described by those exposed to them, a survey of farmers was carried to determine their perceptions of the phenomenon and consequences on the environment and their daily lives. Technical adaptations adopted to deal with changes were also recorded. The survey was carried out in eight villages in the northern, central and coastal areas of Benin, and was also focused on cropping systems (cotton/food crops, food crops/soybean and food crops/oil palm, respectively). A broad climatic variability gradient was assessed, from the north (Sudanian climate with a monomodal rainfall regime) to the south of the country (Guinean coastal climate with a imodal rainfall regime).

All interviewed farmers had perceived changes in climatic conditions over the previous 15 years. They noted: (i) a trend towards a shortening (or even disappearance) of the second rainy season, and an overall lag in the onset of the main, or only, rainy season, (ii) an increase in rainfall irregularity, more than a decrease in rainfall, (iii) an increase in maximum temperatures, especially during the main, or only, dry season, and (iv) an increase in violent wind storms at the end of the rainy season. One of the worst impacts that they pointed out concerns the violent winds which induce lodging in cereal crop fields, with substantial crop losses, and damage to buildings.

Adaptations differed depending on the farm type and region. Farmers who could: (i) switched to planting new crops such as lowland rice in the central region, while abandoning others (cotton and conventional legume crops such as cow peas and groundnuts, in favour of soybean, in the central region), (ii) adopted shorter cycle varieties, and (iii) modified their practices (inputs, land use, etc.). The most vulnerable farmers engaged in new activities such as charcoal production, or planned to move out of the region.

Hervé Guibert,
& Euloge K. Agbossou,

Publication date: 30/05/2010


Use of group questionnaires in the village of Athièmè, southeastern Benin. © S. Dekoun



Update on 19/04/12


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