Institut für Ernährungswirtschaft und Verbrauchslehre

Climate Change, Farm Productivity and Nutritional Status of Farm Households in Northern Nigeria

At the core of the ongoing debate on the adverse effects of climate change in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), there is the issue of food security. Food availability (and to some extent food access) is principally determined by agricultural productivity for most farming households. Agriculture is the mainstay of many SSA countries and the predominant form of economic activity in the rural areas where majority of the poor live. This region of the world is deemed most vulnerable to climate change, with poverty rates reaching as high as more than 40 percent of the entire population. In this part of Africa, millions of small-scale subsistent farmers cultivate less than one hectare of land, produce food crops in extremely challenging conditions. The production environment is characterized by a joint combination of low land productivity and harsh weather conditions. 

These result in very low yields and food insecurity. With low diversified economies and reliance on rainfed agriculture, SSA’s development prospects have been closely associated with climate. However, a plethora of climate models have recently projected further reduction in agricultural productivity due to climate change by up to 50% by 2050, a scenario that might further severely constrain food availability and access. Ultimately, where the quantity of food is reduced, then so is intake of micronutrients. In addition, agricultural productivity is closely linked to farm profitability and low incomes generally limit access to food and health care, all of which affect nutritional status of farm households.

Therefore, as the debate on global climate change has moved from scientific circles to policy circles with nation-states more serious now than before in exploring a range of response strategies to deal with this complex phenomenon. One of the crucial inputs needed for policy formulation on mitigation and adaptation is information on the potential impacts of climate change on various climate-sensitive sectors. 

The impacts of climate change on agriculture are likely to be regionally distinct and highly heterogeneous spatially, requiring sophisticated understanding of causes and effects and careful design and dissemination of appropriate responses. Given the strategic economic position of Nigeria in the West African sub-region, this study aims to complement the existing literature on climate change by analysing the productive and nutritional implications of adaptation to climate change by traditional farm households in the drought-prone areas of Northern Nigerian. Impact of climate change on agriculture needs considerable attention in Nigeria, as they are closely linked to the food security and poverty status of a majority of the population.