CLIMATE CHANGE INFORMATION NEEDS OF RURAL FARMERS IN ENUGU STATE, NIGERIA
Adaptation is considered an appropriate response to climate change and variability, especially for rural farmers. However, the farmers’ ability to effectively respond to climate change challenges is determined by the quality of information available to the farmers and how easily the information is accessed. The study sought to assess the information needs of rural farmers on climate change. A total of I52 respondents were selected using multistage sampling technique. Percentages, mean scores, standard deviations, factor analysis and multiple linear regression model were used in data analysis and presentation. The findings show that all the respondents indicated awareness of climate change. However, the knowledge score used indicated that none of the respondents had high knowledge on climate change. The respondents’ major and perceived reliable sources of knowledge were personal observations and friends. These information sources according to the findings were useful especially on adaptation. The major areas of information needs of the farmers on adaptation were use of improved varieties, occupational diversification, use of weed tolerant varieties, change in timing of farm operations, use of herbicides and pesticides and incorporating residue into the soil. However the findings indicate that the following were the perceived major constraints to effective communication of climate change: poor communication linkage between scientists, extension agents and farmers, lack of proper enlightenment, lack of participatory approach to communication, poor use of local dialect in translation and communication of climate change information jargon to rural farmers, lack of communication facilities etc. The respondents’ perceived strategies that can be used for effective communication of climate change information were: use of vernacular through mass media to disseminate climate chanrge information, use of participatory approach in communicating climate change information, incorporating the needs, perception and concern of the target audience and ensuring relevance of information to the target audience, ensuring reliability of information, use of credible experts who have knowledge of vernacular, and bridging the communication gap between scientists, extension agents and farmers. Other strategies include: use of local and religious leaders to disseminate climate change information, use of local languages (dialect) and folks, use of audio visual aids and provision of timely information, training of communicators of climate change information, strengthening agricultural extension delivery system, provision of communication facilities by government to climate change communicators, and use of service providers to disseminate climate change information through short message service. The findings reveal that the following had significant influence on knowledge level (p≤0.05): years spent in formal education, membership of social/religious organization, number of climate change training, farm size, marital status, access to credit, and climate change training.