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Assessing vulnerability and adaptation of rice value chains to multiple, combined pressures in Benue State, Nigeria

Terdoo, F. (2019) Assessing vulnerability and adaptation of rice value chains to multiple, combined pressures in Benue State, Nigeria. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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To link to this item DOI: 10.48683/1926.00084913


The rice value chains (RVCs) in Nigeria are vulnerable to combined multiple climatic, and economic pressures. Yet existing research has rarely studied how climate change and variability (CCV) and other pressures simultaneously impact RVCs, and has overlooked parts of the value chain other than production. To fill this gap, a synchronic baseline assessment of the complexities of the RVCs in Benue State, Nigeria, was conducted. Two complementary approaches, namely Vulnerability Scoping Diagrams (VSD) and Participatory System Mapping (PSM), were used. Data sets were drawn from face-to-face (n=72) and six workshops (n=36) interviews with RVCs actors (growers, millers, and traders) in three study sites. The VCD framework helped examine in detail the RVC systems’ components of exposure and sensitivity, and also the adaptive practice of the various actors to multiple, combined pressures. The PSM, using stock and flow diagrams, helped elicit the RVCs systems’ component maps based on the perspectives held by the various actors in the chain. This study uncovered that millers and traders in Benue State are more exposed and sensitive to economic pressures than to prolonged wet conditions, high moisture contents or excess dryness of the rice, and water scarcity, the effects of which may have been exacerbated not only by CCV but also by their continuous use of artisanal milling technologies, selling decisions and social distinctions (e.g., educational level and practical experience in rice milling and trading). This study showed that these pressures do not only result in poor rice yield and milling quality, but also limit the ability of the domestic rice industry to effectively compete in a market whose demand is driven by quality. Regarding their response to pressures, this study found that RVC actors employed a number of adaptive practices that, instead of reducing their exposure and sensitivity to pressures, result in maladaptation outcomes which increased them, as most of the practices are reactive and short-termed, often unplanned and individually employed. Moreover, these practices were characterised by trade-offs and uncertainties which were often inadequate to offset the magnitude of recent pressures and which tend to occur rapidly and on a large scale (e.g., flooding and price crashes). Accordingly, the study has identified seven entry points for a reduction in the vulnerability and resilience building of rice RVCs’ actors to multiple, combined pressures. These include the need for: (i) information, both short- and long-term, to help with publicity and the diffusion of promising adaptive practices more widely; (ii) adoption of anticipatory, or preventive and long-term adaptive practices; (iii) more planned adaptive practices; (iv) scaling up the adoption of collective adaptive practices and coordination; (v) upgrading rice milling technologies and infrastructure; (vi) assessing trade-offs between different adaptation practices and the cost implications; and (vii) addressing uncertainties regarding the pressures themselves, policy options, and certain adaptation practices in the study region. In addition, this study has revealed specific ways in which PSM can build resilience in the RVCs, which are: (i) the promotion of social learning about the RVC system through the visualisation of system structures, challenges and opportunities; (ii) information for better decision-making at either individual or group level, through the uncovering of connections and interdependencies between value chain subsystems and, also as a result of the above points (iii) the promotion of community problem solving, through the establishment of a collective space and collaboration platform, and a common language and understanding of the value chain and its vulnerability and potential for change. This study suggests that research needs include: (i) an assessment as to whether trade-offs between adaptation and costs really do form the bedrock of adaptation practices employed by rice growers, traders, and millers in response to CCV, economic/markets in the study region, and whether actors have adequate information to make adaptive decisions that entail trade-offs; (ii) the development of a fully-fledged quantitative system dynamics model, where different adaptation options can be evaluated, possibly in a participatory manner; and (iii) an investigation of the constraints to the adoption of collective adaption practices by growers in the study region; collective actions may be important to help growers build synergy and pool resources together in response to pressures, in the absence of government support.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Feola, G. and Branch, N.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Archaeology, Geography & Environmental Science
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science
ID Code:84913
Date on Title Page:2018


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