Date of Award

Fall 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Agricultural Education

First Advisor

Roger L. Tormoehlen

Committee Member 1

Dev Niyogi

Committee Member 2

Jerry Peters


This study was conducted in Blantyre District and the overall objective was to determine the roles of agricultural extension in promoting smallholder farmers successful adaptation to climate change. To accomplish this objective one hundred and thirty smallholder farmers were recruited to participate in the study. Using a questionnaire designed by the researcher, data was collected to determine the smallholder farmers' perceptions on climate change and its major effects on agricultural livelihoods. This study sought to determine adaptation practices that were being utilized by the smallholder farmers to moderate the effects of climate change on agriculture as well as the role of agricultural extension, presently and in the future, in building the adaptive ability to respond to climate change.

Findings revealed that the smallholder farmer's perception is that climate is changing in their farming areas. To substantiate this they noted that, in general, the amount of rainfall received was declining and temperature was increasing. One of the most significant impacts cited by the smallholder farmers of the perceived decline in rainfall and temperature increase was a reduction in crop yields (Mean=4.450).

When asked how agricultural extension could play a role in promoting farmer implementation of effective climate change adaptation strategies they listed the following: * conducting awareness programs, events and activities to sensitize smallholder farmers on climate change and management (Mean=4.72); * conducting demonstrations to train smallholder farmers on new knowledge and skills on climate change adaptation technologies (Mean=4.68); * conducting field days to publicize new and improved crop varieties and livestock breeds that are resistant to drought and diseases (Mean=4.65); * disseminating information on predictive weather patterns and early warnings so that smallholder farmers may better plan (Mean=4.50); * building capacity to educate its extension staff on climate change, its adverse effects, and potential intervention techniques (mean=4.22); and, * linking smallholder farmers to research institutions for on-farm adaptive research on promising best practices for adaptation on varying farming systems (Mean=4.04).