Muller, C and Shackleton, SE (2013), Perceptions of climate change and barriers to adaptation amongst commonage and commercial livestock farmers in the semi-arid Eastern Cape Karoo, African Journal of Range & Forage Science.
Climate change is expected to adversely affect agriculture in South Africa. A rise in variable and unfavourable conditions is likely to surpass the limits of current coping mechanisms of farmers, compelling them to implement more resilient adaptive measures to decrease their vulnerability to heightened risks. This study assessed the perceptions and understanding of climate change amongst livestock farmers in the semi-arid Eastern Cape Karoo and their responses to perceived changes and associated risks. Questionnaires and semi-structured interviews revealed that, while commercial famers were well informed regarding global climate change, commonage farmers had little or no understanding of the phenomenon. Although changes in local climate parameters were identified by farmers, perceived changes were mostly ascribed to the expected climate variability of the region. It was found that commonage farmers are particularly vulnerable to future climate change, whereas commercial farmers, having experience in dealing with the already variable and marginal conditions of the region and facing fewer asset and informational constraints, possess a greater adaptive capacity to respond to projected changes. Furthermore, the results demonstrated that lack of funds, lack of government support and access to information on climate change and potential adaptation strategies are the main factors constraining farmers from adaptation.