The study was conducted in Western Himalayas and Middle Gangetic plain agro climatic zones of India to know the perception of farmers about climate change and its effect agriculture and animal husbandry. Study revealed that majority of the respondents was extremely sure that climate change is happening and they think that climate change is caused by both natural and human activities. Respondents agreed that climate change has negative impact on agriculture vis-a-vis animal husbandry and they perceived decreasing trend of feed and fodder resources, water resources. Majority of respondents (60.83 %) observed that there is increased incidence of diseases case and 83 percent respondents pointed out that there are increases in the incidences of parasitic infestation in livestock. further, majority of interviewees accepted that due to climate change phenomenon and precipitation patterns there is delay in the onset of winter and monsoon season. Eighty five percent respondents perceived an increase in extreme rainfalls events but overall decrease in average rainfall, whereas 93 percent of respondents told that there is decrease in the length of rainy season. Eighty nine percent of respondents reported erratic rainfalls pattern in the study area. However, majority of the respondents (70.83%) perceived an increased insect pest and disease on crops. The reason was linked directly to the decrease in snowfall in Western Himlayan region and precipitation in Middle Gengetic region leading to warmer climate, especially during winter in recent years. The increase in climate extreme phenomenon such as draught and flood in Middle Gengetic region, whereas cloudbursts and landslides in Western Himalayan region has been widely noted over time by the respondents.
Climate change is now recognized as a phenomenon that will be seen and experienced by people all over the world. In order to understand, how human beings would respond to climate change, it is essential to study people’s perceptions on climate prevailing in any region and the environment in general (Vedwan and Rhoades, 2001). Rural people may not understand the science involved in climate change but they are rightly observing and feeling its effects in their day to day life. Livestock farming communities’ perceptions on climate change is constituted by the relationships that individual share with their environment, the nature in which communities are structured and the rate at which climate variables change over time. Perceptions played a crucial role in the ability of a community to adapt to climate change. Recent research suggests that rainfall changes at the national level may be perceived differently at local scales either because of local variations or because rainfall records fail to capture key factors such as intensity or timing. Perceptions are affected by factors such as culture, knowledge and access to information.
The present study was conducted in Western Himalayan region (Nainital district of Uttarakhand) and Middle Gangetic plain region (Deoria district of Uttar Pradesh) of India. Stratified randomly sampling technique was used for selection of blocks, villages and respondents. From each district three blocks and six villages were selected. In this way 6 blocks and 12 villages from both the district were taken into consideration, from each selected village ten livestock owners having at least two large animals were selected randomly to make 120 total respondents for the investigation. Semi structured interview schedule was used for the purpose of data collection. Besides primary data, some necessary secondary data were also collected from department of Meteorology. Individual’s perception about climate change phenomenon was measured by using the modified scale of Leiserowitz (2006). The response regarding the perception on climate variability and change was recorded on five-point continuum based on surety of occurrence as; strongly agreed=5; agreed=4; undecided=3; disagreed=2; strongly disagreed=1 for positive statements and reverse marking for negative statements. Frequency distribution, percentage and mean score were computed and analyzed.
Results and Discussion
Farmers’ Perception on Climate Change Phenomenon
Results presented in table 1 indicated that climate change is real and has been strongly endorsed by 33.3 percent of the respondents and also agreed by 52.5 percent of the respondents. Seventy percent of respondents agreed that climate change is very urgent and serious problem whereas, 99 percent of respondents (50% SA & 49% A) believed that there was significant change in weather pattern. Further, 72 percent (24% SA & 48% A) of respondent perceived an increased in environmental temperature and extreme rainfall events but overall decreased in rainfall and change in timing of precipitation. Cent per cent respondents perceived an increase in the frequency of extreme weather conditions and that change in season length; whereas 74 percent (40%D & 34%SD) of respondents disagreed with the statement that climate change is merely a hoax, climate change is not a problem and climate change is more beneficial rather than harmful. Further they disagreed that no roles of human being in climate change, no effects of climate change on agriculture & animal husbandry; water resources and biodiversity. Results presented in Table 1 also indicated that mean score of the positive statements to climate change phenomenon are fairly high, whereas, mean score of negative statements are very low indicating that respondents did not affirmed them positively. These findings revealed that people realized the change in climate. However, awareness programme needs to be launched for increasing knowledge among people in order to promote practical adaptation activities related to agriculture as well as total animal husbandry practices. Thus, it can be concluded that in general the respondents perceived the climate change phenomenon in both the region.
The perception of climate related parameters was assessed at household level via interview of livestock owners about their perception of long term changes in climate. Specifically livestock owners were asked that whether they have noticed any long term changes in the average temperature, rainfall, snowfall (Western Himalayan region only), season length and extreme weather conditions in recent years?
Farmers’ Perceptions on Environmental Temperature
There was a perception that the temperature distribution has undergone a significant shift in addition to an overall increase in temperature. The result shows that majority of farmers (71%) perceived an increase in average temperature and 80 percent of the respondents also perceived increase in length of hot period over the last 20 years (Table 2). Majority of respondents believed that hot month have shifted ahead; as people believe that the hottest period of the year is month of “Jeth” in hindi calendar (15 May to 15 June), but not now.
Effect of Environmental Temperature Perceived by the Farmers
Majority of respondents perceived that climate change had negative impact on milk production, lactation length, decreased length and intensity of estrous period and decreased conception rate of their animals (Table 3). Whereas, many farmers told that there were increase in cases of repeat breeding in their animals. During adverse climatic condition dairy animals are unable to conceive, especially buffaloes those are very sensitive to increased temperature. Several workers (Shinde et al. 1990; Kulkarni et al. 1998; Mandal et al. 2002 have concluded that milk yield of crossbred cows in India (e.g., Karan Fries, Karan Swiss and other Holstein and Jersey crosses) to be negatively correlated with temperature humidity index. Maurya (2010) also reported that milk yield, average lactation length and length and intensity of estrous period of dairy animals are decreasing due to increase in environmental stress and lack of the required amount of the nutrient and dry matter for the dairy animals during draught in Bundelkhand region of India. Upadhya et al, (2007) stated that thermal stress on Indian livestock particularly cattle and buffaloes has been reported to decrease estrus expression and conception rate.
Table 1: Distribution of respondents according to their perception on climate change phenomenon
|Climate change is real||33.3||52.5||00||4.17||10||474||3.95|
|Climate Change is urgent & serious problem||26.6||43.3||5.8||15||9.17||436||3.63|
|Significant change in weather pattern||50.8||49.1||00||00||00||541||4.51|
|Increase environmental temperature||24.1||48.3||00||22.5||5||437||3.64|
|Change in timing of precipitation||70.8||26.6||2.5||00||00||562||4.68|
|Increase frequency of extreme weather conditions||72.5||27.5||00||00||00||567||4.73|
|Change in season length||87.5||12.5||00||00||00||585||4.88|
|Climate change is nearly a hoax||8.3||17.5||00||40||34.2||271||2.26|
|Climate change is not a problem||6.6||15.8||00||53.3||24.2||273||2.28|
|Climate change is more beneficial than harmful||00||00||7.5||24.1||68.3||167||1.39|
|No role of human in climate change||00||00||00||12.5||87.5||135||1.13|
|No effect of Climate change on Agriculture||0.00
|No effect of Climate change on Animal Husbandry||3.3||8.3||4.18||55.8||28.3||243||2.03|
|No effect of Climate change on water resources||00||4.1||00||75||20.8||225||1.88|
|No effect of climate change on biodiversity||00||00||00||50.8||49.2||181||1.51|
SA-strongly agree-5, A-agree-4, UD- undecided-3, D-disagree-2, SD- strongly disagree-1, TS- total score
Table 2: Distribution of respondents according to their perceptions of climate change parameters
|Parameters||Particulars||Increased||Decreased||Stayed constant||No answer|
|Length of hot periods||97(80)||10(8)||8(7)||5(4)|
|Length of rainy season||5(4)||112(93)||0(00)||3(3)|
|Snow fall (N=60)||Annual||0(00)||60(100)||0(00)||0(00)|
|Season length (N=120)||Summer||116(97)||0(00)||0(00)||4(3)|
|Extreme weather condition||Annual||111(92.5)
Values in bracket indicate percentage. Percentages are rounded to 0 decimals; hence, the sum is not always 100.
Effect of climate change on livestock disease incidences and parasitic infestation in livestock was also perceived by the farmers (Table 3). In a cursory look on the table indicated that majority of respondents (60.83 %) observed in the increase in incidence of diseases and 83 percent respondents pointed that there are increase in incidence of parasitic infestation in livestock. Baylis and Githeko (2006) concluded that cycles of drought followed by heavy rainfall provide breeding sites for midge and mosquito vectors and are associated with outbreaks of vector-borne livestock diseases. Changes in precipitation may also affect the range and distribution of arthropods vectors, and there is evidence of tick population expanding their range with decreasing rainfall (Trape et al., 1996). Conversely, increased precipitation increases the abundance of snail hosts for livestock parasites. Parasitism has been considered as single most entity for morbidity in livestock in hill region also (Jithendran 1998). According to Upadhaya (2010) the estimated annual loss at present due to heat stress among cattle and buffaloes at the all-India level is 1.8 million tones, which is nearly two per cent of the total milk production in the country, amounting to a whopping over Rs 2,661 crore.
Analysis of data for the period 1901-2009 suggested that annual mean temperature for the country as a whole had risen by 0.56 0C over the period (IMD 2009). This increase in surface temperature of the soil is primarily due to rise in maximum temperature across the country. However since 1990, minimum temperature is steadily rising and rate of its rise is slightly more than that of maximum temperature (IMD Annual Climate Summary, 2009). Warming trend over globe of the order of 0.74 0C has also been reported by IPCC (2007).
Table 3. Effect of environmental temperature perceived by the farmers
Parameters Agro climatic region
MGPR WHR Pooled
Decreased 60.00 53.33 56.67
Increased 5.00 8.33 6.66
Stayed constant 30.00 33.33 31.67
Do not know 5.00 5.00 5.00
Decreased 55.00 61.67 58.33
Increased 0.00 0.00 0.00
Stayed constant 30.00 33.033 31.67
Do not know 15.00 5.00 10.00
Decreased 15.00 0.00 7.50
Increased 45.00 56.67 50.83
Stayed constant 30.00 36.67 33.33
Do not know 10.00 6.66 8.33
Length and intensity of estrous period:
Decreased 66.67 51.67 59.17
Increased 0.00 0.00 0.00
Stayed constant 0.00 21.67 10.83
Do not know 33.33 26.66 30.00
Decreased 60.00 55.00 57.50
Increased 0.00 0.00 0.00
Stayed constant 26.67 35.00 30.83
Do not know 13.33 10.00 11.67
Increased 65.00 56.67 60.83
Decreased 20.00 28.33 24.17
Can not say anything 15.00 15.00 15.00
Incidences of parasitic infestation:
Decreased 3.33 0.00 1.67
Increased 76.67 90.00 83.33
Stayed constant 16.67 6.67 11.67
Do not know 3.33 3.33 3.33
Insect pest and disease incidences of crop including fodder crop:
Increased 66.67 75.00 70.83
Decreased 8.33 8.33 8.33
No change 0.00 0.00 0.00
Cannot say anything 25.00 16.33 20.83
Farmers’ Perceptions on Rainfall and Snowfall
Majority of interviewees accepted that due to climate change phenomenon and precipitation patterns there is delay in the onset of winter and monsoon season. Majority of respondents (85%) perceived an increase in extreme rainfalls event but overall decrease average rainfall whereas 93 percent of respondents told that there is decrease in the length of rainy season. Eighty nine percent of respondents reported erratic rainfalls pattern in the study area (Table 2). Most of the respondents pointed that monsoon rains are slightly displaced to the period beyond mid-August. GEAG (2010) also concluded that timing of rain has become very unpredictable as August-September had been the usual period of the flood but today it is not the case. Cent per cent of the respondents of the Western Himalayan region perceived a definite reduction in snowfall over the last 20 years (Table 2). In fact most of the respondents opined that there are reductions in the intensity as well as change in the timing of snowfall and melting are also very fast.
Recollection of memorable events, such as the largest snowfall in a decade, was the most common method used to discuss reductions in the intensity of snowfall. Majority of the respondents felt that the timing of the snowfall had undergone a change. According to them, the onset of early snowfall occurring in past in the month of December and January more infrequently over the time have now shifted to the months of February and March. These findings are in line with the report by the (IMD, 2010). Vedwan and Rhoades (2001) also reported that Western Himalayas’ people perceived a definite reduction in the intensity and changes in the timing of snowfall and rainfall over the time.
The results presented in table 3 indicated that majority of the respondents (70.83%) perceived an increase in insect pest and disease on crops. The reason s linked directly decrease snowfall in Western Himalayan region and precipitation in Middle Gengetic region leads to warmer climate, especially during winter in recent years. A list of prevailing disease of fodder crop was also provided by the interviewees of Western Himalayan region. These include a big sized pest on grass, vegetables and wheat; lojomi (disease in which holes form in potato crop); lom / shor (pest in which leaves dry up due to less rain), lomboroney (disease in which the stem turns yellow and the crop falls or limps), oludumi (pest on potato crop), jhulsa (disease in which crop turns yellow and fallen down), tana bedhak (disease in which stem become porous). Since the past 5-10 years, all fruit trees (apple, apricot, pear and walnut) catch disease and also cause itching in humans. An insect locally known as Kurmula was damaging paddy, potatoes and chillies. Majority of respondents of Middle Gangetic plain region told that in the field of sugarcane there was an insect which causes a very burning pain whenever touches the body; local people called it “Current Wala Kira”.
Farmers’ Perceptions on Season Length and Extreme Weather Events
Majority of the respondents (97%) felt that summer length has increased (Table 2). This increase in summer seasons means shorten Rabi season which leads to decreased production of Rabi crops in the region. Extreme weather includes weather phenomena that are at the extremes of the historical distribution, especially severe or unseasonal weather. The increase in phenomena such as draught and flood in Middle Gengetic region, whereas, cloudbursts and landslides in Western Himalayan region was widely noted over time. Majority of respondents (92.5%) perceived an increased frequency of extreme weather conditions, whereas 7.5 percent respondents perceived no change in frequency of extreme weather conditions (Table 2). According to Chaudhary and Bawa (2011) there is a widespread feeling that weather is getting warmer, the water sources are drying up, the onset of summer and monsoon has advanced during last 10 years and there is less snow on mountains than ever in past. Sen and Chander (2003) also reported that the frequency and instability of landslides including mass wasting have increased substantially in the Himalayan mountain belt.
This study has demonstrated the farmers’ perception on climate change and its effect on agriculture vis-a vis animal husbandry scenario and hence the necessity for institution of control measures for these negative effect in the area with a view of reducing the losses due to climate variability among farming communities. It is suggested that the farmers perception on climate change and its effect on agricultural need to be investigated on a large scale both regionally and nationally.
The authors are thankful to all the respondents for giving their inputs and participation in study. Authors also thankful to Director, IVRI, for providing all the necessary research facilities.
Conflict of interest
Authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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