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Farmers' perception and adaptation strategies to climate change in Central Mali

Traoré A., Falconnier G.N., Kouressy M., Serpantié G., Ba A., Affholder F., Giner M., Sultan B.. 2021. Weather, Climate, and Society : 18 p..

DOI: 10.1175/WCAS-D-21-0003.1

Adaptation of the agricultural sector to climate change is crucial to avoid food insecurity in sub-Saharan Africa. Farmers' perception of climate change is a crucial element in adaptation process. The aim of this study was (i) to compare farmers' perception of climate change with actual weather data recorded in central Mali and (ii) to identify changes in agricultural practices implemented by farmers to adapt to climate change and iii) to investigate the link between farmers' perception of climate change and implementation of adaptation practices. Focus group discussions and individual surveys were conducted to identify climate-related changes perceived by farmers and agricultural adaptation strategies they consider relevant to cope with these changes. Majority (>50%) of farmers perceived an increase in temperature, decrease in rainfall, shortening of growing season, early cessation of rainfall and increase in the frequency of dry spells at beginning of growing season. In line with farmers' perception, analysis of climate data indicated (i) increase in mean annual temperature and minimum growing season temperature and (ii) decrease in total rainfall. Farmers' perception of early cessation of rainfall and more frequent drought periods were not detected by climate data analysis. To cope with decrease in rainfall and late start of growing season, farmers used drought-tolerant cultivars and implemented water-saving technologies. Despite a perceived warming, no specific adaptation to heat stress was mentioned 30 by farmers. Our study high-lights the need for a dialogue between farmers and researchers to develop new strategies to compensate for the expected negative impacts of heat stress on agricultural productivity.

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