Evaluating climate change adaptation strategies for disaster risk management: case study for Bethlehem wheat farmers, South Africa
Serage, Kgadiko Lucas
MetadataShow full item record
The most important Agro-climate factors of primary agricultural production are temperature and rainfall. The impact of climate change is seen the best in the agricultural industry. The vulnerability of agriculture to climate change has become an important issue because of reduced crop productivity that is experienced by farmers. Wheat is the second staple crop in South Africa, maize is the first. The main dryland winter wheat production in South Africa is in the Free State province, in the areas surrounding Bethlehem. This study was carried out in Bethlehem. The objectives are to review the Disaster Risk Management framework in South Africa and its role in agriculture and the sustainability of food security, to explore the perception that commercial farmers have on climate change and how it influences their wheat production, to evaluate the adaption options open to commercial farmers, and to assess the impact that these adaptation options have on climate change and wheat crops by using the crop simulation model DSSAT. This study established that South African Policy and the legislative framework on Disaster Risk Management is well in existence and articulated to address the vulnerability of food security because of climate change and any form of disaster. The South African national legislative framework and strategies for disaster risk reduction appear to be in cohesion with the regional strategies. 97.1% of the sampled farmers perceive that there has been some change in the climate, 2.9% of the farmers were not sure whether there was a change or not. The farmers perceive climate change by observing that there is an increase in temperature and there are alterations in temperature ranges (average minimum and maximum temperatures) and there is an alteration in temporal variations. The farmers’ observations are that there is an alteration in the rainfall pattern, particularly a reduction in the rainfall amount received per year. On mitigation measures, the three most common internal farming adaptation measures indicated by the sampled wheat farmers in Bethlehem are: changing the planting time (23.6%), changing the crop (22%), and changing the cultivars (15.7%). The result indicated that changing the cultivars, changing the planting date and to have better fertilizer level management are some of the favorite adaptation measures the farmers use to mitigate crop yield losses due to climate change. The model shows all three cultivars performing better on later planting dates than earlier planting dates. Elands performed higher than all the other cultivars under all the fertilizer management levels. The highest grain yield was 3.4 t ha-1 for Eland. SST 124 and Betta DN were 1.5 and 1.4 tha-1 respectively under higher fertilizer management levels (75kg Nha-1). Elands performed higher under low fertilizer management levels (25kg Nha-1) with a yield of 2.4 tha-1 followed by the 1.1 and 1.0 tha-1 of SST 124 and Betta-DN respectively. Late planting combined with medium fertilizer levels (50kg Nha-1) surpassed the early planting combined with 75kg Nha-1 in yield by 32%, 26% and 17% for Elands, SST 124 and Betta-DN respectively. Changing to cultivars such as Elands, combined with late planting dates and a medium level of fertilizer management, is suggested as a solution to mitigate yield loss due to climate change, where a yield of 2.5 t ha-1 is a 70% probability. Changing cultivars, planting dates and fertilizer levels may be one of the strategies that can be adopted towards mitigating the risk of crop losses and thus improving food security. Such measures should be supported in terms of research resources and training.