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Smallholder Farmer Adoption Of Climate-Related Adaptation Strategies: The Importance Of Vulnerability Context, Livelihood Assets, And Climate Perceptions

X. Shinbrot, K. W. Jones, A. Rivera-Castañeda, W. López-Báez, D. Ojima
Published 2019 · Economics, Medicine

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Despite increased research characterizing the adaptive capacity of households and communities, there are few empirical studies that test why farmers adopt costly climate-related adaptive strategies, which strategies are implemented, and farmers’ perceptions of climate changes. In this study, we analyzed determinants for smallholder farmer adoption of adaptation strategies in Chiapas, Mexico. We conducted 291 surveys with landowners in eight coffee farming communities. Farmers were asked which of 21 adaptation strategies they had engaged in, within five categories: migration, storage, land use diversification, community investment, and market exchange. We found the most frequent strategies included planting shade coffee, diversifying crop varieties, shifting sow date, building living walls, reforesting, or engaging in soil conservation. Although many farmers have experienced natural disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes, they were most concerned by long-term threats to crops like coffee rust and higher temperatures, that require costly adaptive investments. We find farmers adapt to climate events because of their vulnerability context (i.e., experience with disasters and distance to markets). Land holdings (i.e., natural capital), farm equipment (i.e., physical capital), and group membership (i.e., social capital), were also key factors influencing adaptation. Finally, farmers with strong perceptions of drought and temperature change were most likely to adapt. These results suggest policy makers should have a multi-pronged approach to: improve farmers’ resource base through explicitly promoting adaptation strategies like crop and income diversification; inform climate perceptions through workshops on climate and weather; and strengthen participation in community and producer organizations to increase smallholder adaptation.
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