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Effect of Climate Variability on Yams (Dioscorea spp.) Production in Central and Northern Benin

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Document pages: 18 pages

Abstract: Climate change poses an important constraint to agricultural sector and food security in tropical African countries dominated by rain-fed agriculture. This research focuses on the effects of climate variability on yam production in central and northern Benin. Daily climate data such as temperatures, precipitation, potential evapotranspiration, relative humidity and insolation from 1981 to 2016 were collected at the direction of METEO-Benin. A survey was then conducted with 351 producers to collect their perceptions of the effect of climate variability on the yams production. Descriptive statistics, principal component analysis (PCA) followed by trend analyses, Lamb index calculations and the agro-climatic stress index were carried out. The distribution of rain during the yam cycle (91.5 of those surveyed), the ambient temperature (84.9 ), insolation (83.5 ), the amount of rainwater that fell during the rainy season (82.2 ) and the harmattan (53.3 ) are perceived by sociolinguistic groups as climatic factors affecting the growth, the tuberization and yield of yams according to the producers. The results indicate an upward trend in temperature over the period 2001 to 2016 in the transition zone (28.4°C) and in the Northeast (27.76°C) and over the period from 2001 to 2011 in the North-West of Benin (27.71°C), where the average annual temperature during these periods is higher than normal (27.82°C in the center, 27.44°C in the Northeast and 27.42°C to the northwest). This research also shows an instability of the rains with a regular decrease in the rainfall in the Centre and the North-East of the country. The agro-climatic stress index (ISA) and above all the annual rainfall constitute the main climatic factors which determine the yield of yam in the various growing areas in Benin. The average annual temperature and that of January in the transition zone, the rains of January and April in the North-East zone and the relative humidity in the North-West zone also probability determine the yield of the yam.

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