Coping with weather adversity and adaptation to climatic variability: a cross-country study of smallholder farmers in South Asia

Abstract

Concerns over climate change and climatic variability are growing in South Asia because of the potential detrimental impacts of these phenomena on livelihoods. Such growing concerns demonstrate a need to assess how farmers simultaneously cope with extreme events and adapt to climatic variability. Based on household surveys of 2660 farm families conducted in Nepal's Terai, coastal Bangladesh, and the Indian state of Bihar, this paper seeks to (1) explore farmers’ coping strategies under adverse weather events; (2) identify key adaptation measures used by farmers; and (3) explore the policy interventions required to adjust agriculture to climatic variability. The study reveals that migration is the most important coping strategy of the households in Bihar and coastal Bangladesh, while reliance on credit markets is the most important in Terai. Farmers in the areas with higher rainfall variability pursue a higher number of coping strategies compared to farmers in areas with lower rainfall variability. Food available months are also higher in areas with higher rainfall variability. Across all sites, the most frequently mentioned adaptive practices are changing cropping patterns and adoption of resilient crop varieties. A large number of farmers place emphasis on breeding crop varieties that tolerate adverse weather. Governments should implement a number of planned activities to cope with adverse events, with the aim that these activities would be synergistic with adaptation to climate change.

Citation

Bhatta, G.D.; Aggarwal, P.K. Coping with weather adversity and adaptation to climatic variability: a cross-country study of smallholder farmers in South Asia. Climate and Development (2015) : 1-13. [DOI: 10.1080/17565529.2015.1016883]

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