Rain-Fed Farming System at a Crossroads in Semi-Arid Areas of Tanzania: What Roles do Climate Variability and Change Play?

Samwel J. Kabote, Delphina P. Mamiro, Gry Synnevag, Justin K. Urassa, Amon Z. Mattee, Emanuel E. Chingonikaya, Jonathan S. Mbwambo, Carolyne I. Nombo, Leah M. Masolwa


Positive changes, like adopting drought resistant crop varieties, in the rain-fed farming system (RFFS) in response to climate variability and change enhance system’s ability to support people’s living as opposed to negative changes, like lack of pastures, which put the system at risk of failure in supporting the living. Using participatory rural appraisal (PRA) and household survey, this paper examined the roles of climate variability and change in triggering changes in RFFS. Specifically, the paper: (i) assessed dominant crop and livestock farming system; (ii) assessed the change element of crop and livestock production systems; and (iii) examined factors for the changes in RFFS. A random sample of 388 households was used. Qualitative data analysis was done through content analysis. Binary logistic regression was used to assess factors that explain changes on RFFS. The results showed that dominant crops were different in each village. Secondly, some changes in crop varieties and in livestock grazing arrangements were noted in response to climate variability and change. Unlike the hypothesis (P>0.05), the results demonstrated that warming (ß = -10.61, Wald = 36.26, P ? 0.001) showed highest significant impact on likelihood of adopting new crop varieties relative to other factors. Similarly, drought (ß = 2.16, Wald = 6.82, P ? 0.009) showed highest impact on the likelihood of changing a grazing place. Yet, the changes were constrained by factors like natural resources protective policies, failure of crop varieties to withstand warming and drought, and poor land use management. Therefore, the RFFS was at a crossroads with implications on system sustainability and livelihoods. The government and private interventions should support farmers and agro-pastoralists to manage risks related to the changes in RFFS in response to climate variability and change.

Keywords: Climate change, agro-pastoralism, livelihoods, semi-arid, Tanzania

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ISSN (Paper)2224-3216 ISSN (Online)2225-0948

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