Thursday 1 September 2016

Experience with CIRCLE so far

By Dr Oluwole Johnson Akintonde, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Nigeria
Cohort 2 CIRCLE Visiting Fellow

Dr Akintonde spent his fellowship year at Makerere University, Ethiopia. He reflects on the CIRCLE Programme in the final weeks of his Fellowship.

To start with, my thanks go to God, the CIRCLE team, my home institution (LAUTECH, Nigeria) and host institution (Makerere, Uganda) for this rare opportunity which enables me to have a different exposure in terms of academic environment and additional knowledge of research approaches. I considered the offer as a rare one, because it came into view weeks after the final defence of my Ph.D programme. When my name was shortlisted I was so happy, but thereafter I was downcast when I read that my participation in the programme is subject to the readiness of an assigned supervisor at the host institution. “Johnson, the most favoured man”, of course thumbs-up for the CIRCLE programme when I heard that my supervisor had been assigned.

Coordinator and Supervisor relationship
We had a warm reception from the host institution especially from Dr. Bamutaze, who is the CIRCLE Coordinator here in Makerere. Always attentive and responsive when need arises. I am also under the supervision of a lively, friendly, understanding and approachable supervisor- Prof. Shuaib Lwasa. A versatile man in research approaches, especially on research in climate change issues.

Research focus and progress
I have observed that crop farmers are not novices on changes in climatic conditions and how these affect crop production. Several strategies have been introduced, adopted and used to mitigate different effects of climate change. It is on this note my research work was designed to assess the level of use of climate change adaptation strategies among arable crop farmers of Oyo and Ekiti Sates, Nigeria. So far this work is progressing as expected. I engaged the services of two Village Extension Agents (VEAs) each from the two States (part of the stakeholders) and two research assistants. The data collection exercise was smooth and convenient. It was another opportunity which enabled me to meet rural farmers in their real state and have wonderful interactions about their knowledge on climate change, how it affects arable crop production in the area and what they are doing to combat its effects. Farmers cited different climate change associated risks/hazards experienced with arable crop production, which include; rainfall fluctuation, drought, heat, diseases infestation, soil erosion, stunted crop growth, depletion of soil fertility among others. All of these have affected both the quality and quantity of arable crop yield.

Dr Akintonde with community members
The above risks/hazards accounted for the use of a number of adaptation strategies in the area. For instance, cultivation of improved seed varieties, mixed cropping, construction of ridges, application of fertilizer and compost include other strategies used against climatic risks/hazards such as depletion of soil fertility, stunted plant growth, undesirable crop yield quality and quantity. In the same vein, construction of ridges across the slope, planting of cover crops, mulching were among other strategies used against soil erosion and water loss. Again, planting of improved seed varieties (drought resistant), irrigation, altering of crop planting date strategies were also used against drought, late/early rainfall, etc. It was observed that most of the arable crop farmers used combinations of adaptation strategies and some of these strategies were on used more frequently (eg. fertilizer application, mixed cropping, mulching, etc). Constraints associated with the use of various climate change adaptation strategies in the area include capital unavailability; irregularity of extension service; inadequate information on climate variability, inadequate required production inputs (eg. land, seeds, chemicals, etc); no subsidies of planting materials; poor access to information on climate change, etc.

Conducting focus group discussions in the community
So far, I am done with the data collection and focus group discussions (FGDs), including part of the analysis, and seriously working hard on the interpretation of the research results. I am working faster so as to have some publications during this quarter with the guidance and encouragement of my supervisor. Hopefully, he’s also going to put me through for training in a particular package/analysis software, which I intended to apply to this work. It would be part of my take home innovation that can be applied to my future research work and shared with colleagues after returning from the programme.
Of course my supervisor is ever ready to receive the complete research write-up in order to make necessary corrections and inputs, with additional support from my specialist adviser so as to come up with possible publishable manuscripts. This would be my joy and of course the joy of my supervisor and CIRCLE, being part of their objectives.

Some challenges
My initial challenge was inability to access my cash from the Ugandan bank (ATM-machine), but the CIRCLE organization is so perfect that I was not the only CVF in Uganda. When this occurred to me, I stood up and contacted my colleagues and I was relieved of the mess I found myself until the situation was resolved. The second is, there are foods but Uganda’s people don’t eat pepper, and their common food includes matooke, posho, rice, sweet potato and to round it up, no solid food. All these are prepared without pepper, just with onion and tomatoes. Our coordinator tried to encourage me to eat some of these foods but I have found it a bit difficult.

Appreciation so far
My appreciations go to CIRCLE team for this programme, my supervisor for his attention, CIRCLE programme coordinator for being there and the entire staff members of the Department of Geography Geo-informatics and Climatic Sciences, Makerere University (Host institution) for their cooperation and LAUTECH (Home institution) for releasing me to participate and enjoy various packages embedded in the CIRCLE programme.

To colleagues (CVFs)
Just a quarter to go! Let’s buckle up and bring out the best out of the CIRCLE programme. Please let’s consider it as a bird at hand…

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Dr Oluwole Johnson Akintonde, for sharing such a wonderful experience.