Smallholder Farmers’ Resilience in Adapting to Climate Changes in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania


  • Brown Gwambene University of Iringa
  • Josephat Saria Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences, The Open University of Tanzania


Smallholder Farmers, Climate Change, Adaptation Strategies, Resilience, Southern Highlands


Ensuring food security and increasing crop production in the face of climate change and environmental obstacles pose a pressing concern for smallholder farmers in the southern highlands of Tanzania. Through a combined approach of qualitative and quantitative data collection methods—which includes key informant interviews, focus group discussions, observations, and household surveys—this paper examines the methods employed by smallholder farmers to bolster resilience and reduce vulnerability to environmental shifts. The results suggest that climate change exerts effects on both the village farming system and households by the following percentages of impact: food shortages (38.7% village/farming system, 29.0% household); infestation of uncommon pests (30.6% village/farming system, 27.4% household); diminishing rainfall/drought (22.6% village/farming system, 17.7% household); and crop failure (24.2% village/farming system, 29.0% household). The household farming methods practised by farmers encompass a range of strategies that include: agroforestry (37.1% adoption rate), which promotes the interspersing of trees with crops to enhance biodiversity and provide ecosystem services; and zero/minimum tillage (9.7%) practices, which reduce soil erosion and improve soil health. The challenges smallholder farmers face in adapting to climate change include the lack of appropriate tools, unfamiliarity with techniques, and inadequate support: all of which exacerbate the uncertainty surrounding the future of farmers and agriculture. By building adaptive capacity and promoting climate-smart agricultural practices, the region can improve food security, reduce vulnerability, and enhance the livelihoods of farming communities. Sustained efforts should prioritize smallholder farmers’ active participation and empowerment in climate change adaptation initiatives.