Climate change as a motivating factor for farm-adjustments: Rethinking the link

Yibekal Abebe Tessema, Jonas Joerin, Anthony Patt
2019 Climate Risk Management  
A B S T R A C T In order to design effective adaptation policies for the agricultural sector, it is important to understand what adjustments farmers actually make in order to cope with climate change. Many studies have compiled lists of such adjustments, especially in the developing country context. There is reason to believe, however, that such studies have suffered from particularly two types of methodological flaws, with the result of over-attributing the importance of climate change,
more » ... mate change, relative to other factors leading farmers to alter their behavior. Firstly, studies in the past often do not consider non-climatic drivers in their analysis and their style of enquiry is also prone to response bias, particularly social desirability bias. In this study, we introduced a new methodological approach that addresses these potential flaws. We applied this new method side-by-side with the more established ones, in a household survey undertaken in Ethiopia. Our new method reveals a list of climate adaptations that is somewhat shorter than previous studies have found. We found that in the study area, crop switching, crop diversification and changing planting date are the adjustments that are primarily motivated by climate change than other drivers. The commonly used approach in studies in the past, the direct enquiry method, identified fertilizer application as the most important adaptation response. Other methods including our suggested new approach, however, indicate that this and other farm-level adjustments, while compatible with climate change, have actually very little to do with it, and instead are primarily motivated by new market and technological opportunities. Our findings could allow for more effective and efficient sets of policies to help farmers best adjust to new threats and opportunities.
doi:10.1016/j.crm.2018.09.003 fatcat:g34vfgfz65gdfgk6jjal7pqsre