SMALLHOLDER FARMERS' PERCEPTION AND ADAPTATION TO RAINFALL VARIABILITY IN MT. ELGON REGION, EASTERN UGANDA
Rainfall is one of the most critical climatic factors for smallholder farmers in Uganda whose farming activities are dominantly rain-fed. However, changes in rainfall patterns are threatening these smallholder farmers' livelihoods. This study was conducted to appraise the farmers' perceptions about the changes in rainfall patterns and their effects on agricultural production and livelihoods in Bududa and Manafwa districts, Uganda. A descriptive study involving focus group discussions and semi-structured interviews was conducted to determine farmers' perceptions about the nature, effects and adaptation to changes in rainfall patterns. Results indicate that majority (98%) of the farmers had noticed changes in rainfall patterns. The seasons were reportedly becoming shorter due to late onset and early cessation of rains The amount of rain was also considered more than normal and was concentrated in a short period at the beginning or end of the season. Farmers' perceptions about amount of rainfall closely matched meteorological data. Results further show that farmers perceive that the shocks associated with changes in rainfall patterns result into reduced crop and livestock production as well depleting the livelihood assets on which they depend. Farmers do not perceive any opportunities presented by rainfall variability. Farmer households undertake different adaptation interventions individually and yet the covariate nature of the rainfall induced shocks and steep terrain in the area require these to be done collectively at landscape level for them to be effective. Therefore, more strategic and landscape level adaptation interventions that take into account farmers' knowledge and experiences are necessary.
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