Environmental Management

, Volume 63, Issue 1, pp 110–123 | Cite as

Farmer Perceptions of Climate Change, Observed Trends and Adaptation of Agriculture in Pakistan

  • Muhammad AbidEmail author
  • Jürgen Scheffran
  • Uwe A. Schneider
  • Ehsan Elahi


Farmers’ willingness and ability to adapt agricultural systems depend on their knowledge about changes in climate and perceived risks of extreme events. Using cross-sectional data of 450 farmers collected from three agro-ecological zones of Punjab, Pakistan, this study investigates farmer perceptions of climate change and their agreement with observed climatic trends. In addition, this study explores the correlation between different adaptation stages (perceptions, intentions, and adaptation) and their key drivers using a Multivariate Probit Model. This study also explores the adaptation measures adopted by farmers. The results of the study show that the perceptions of increasing mean temperature match well with locally recorded data. However, a discrepancy is found in some cases between farmer perceptions of rainfall changes and local climate records. Moreover, education, experience, land tenure, land holdings, extension, cooperation, access to weather forecasting, and marketing information are the factors influencing the three adaptation stages. A strong association is found among the three adaptation stages. Particularly, the study confirms the hypothesis that accurate perceptions lead to stronger adaptation intentions compared to underestimated or no perceptions. Further, farmers prefer basic adaptation measures including changing crop varieties, input use and planting dates over advanced measures, such as planting shade trees, soil conservation, and crop diversification. The study recommends providing farmers, especially small landholders and tenants, easy access to information, institutional services and training on the use of advanced measures to reduce negative impacts of climate change at the farm level.


Climate change Accuracy of perceptions Adaptation intentions Farm level adaptation Pakistan 



This study has been part of a Ph.D. research project at Universität Hamburg, Germany at the School of Integrated Climate System Sciences (SICSS). We gratefully acknowledge the funding sources for this research: Higher Education Commission (HEC), Pakistan; Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD); Kompetenzzentrum Nachhaltige Universität (KNU); School of integrated Climate System Sciences (SICSS); and the Research Group Climate Change and Security (CLISEC) in the Excellence Cluster “Integrated Climate System Analysis and Prediction” (CliSAP) supported by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). We thankfully acknowledge the Pakistan Meteorology Department (PMD) for providing climate data for the analysis. Further, we are thankful to the local agricultural extension departments, farmers, and enumerators for their time and cooperation in the process of successful data collection during March and April 2014. Moreover, we are very thankful to the editors and anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments and suggestions to improve the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


  1. Abid M, Scheffran J, Schneider UA, Ashfaq M (2015) Farmers' perceptions of and adaptation strategies to climate change and their determinants: the case of Punjab province, Pakistan. Earth System Dynamics 6(1):225–243CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Abid M, Ngaruiya G, Scheffran J, Zulfiqar F (2017) The role of social networks in agricultural adaptation to climate change: implications for sustainable agriculture in Pakistan. Climate 5(4):85. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Abid M, Schilling J, Scheffran J, Zulfiqar F (2016a) Climate change vulnerability, adaptation and risk perceptions at farm level in Punjab, Pakistan. Sci Total Environ 547:447–460CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Abid M, Schneider UA, Scheffran J (2016b) Adaptation to climate change and its impacts on food productivity and crop income: perspectives of farmers in rural Pakistan. J Rural Stud 47:254–266CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Arshad M, Kächele H, Krupnik TJ, Amjath-Babu TS, Aravindakshan S, Abbas A, Mehmood Y, Müller K (2017) Climate variability, farmland value, and farmers’ perceptions of climate change: implications for adaptation in rural Pakistan. Int J Sust Dev World 24(6):532–544CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Arshad M, Amjath Babu TS, Kächele H, Müller K (2016) What drives the willingness to pay for crop insurance against extreme weather events (flood and drought) in Pakistan? A hypothetical market approach. Clim Dev 8(3):234–244CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Ali A, Erenstein O (2017) Assessing farmer use of climate change adaptation practices and impacts on food security and poverty in Pakistan. Clim Risk Manag 16:183–194CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Adger WN, Huq S, Brown K, Conway D, Hulme M (2003) Adaptation to climate change in the developing world. Prog Dev Stud 3:179–195CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Badar H, Javed MS, Ali A, Batool Z (2002) Production and marketing constraints limiting sunflower production in Punjab (Pakistan). Int J Agric Biol 4:267–271Google Scholar
  10. Bastakoti RC, Gupta J, Babel MS, van Dijk MP (2014) Climate risks and adaptation strategies in the Lower Mekong River basin. Reg Environ Change 14:207–219CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Brondizio ES, Moran EF (2008) Human dimensions of climate change: the vulnerability of small farmers in the Amazon. Philos Trans R Soc B 363:1803–1809CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Bryan E, Ringler C, Okoba B, Roncoli C, Silvestri S, Herrero M (2013) Adapting agriculture to climate change in Kenya: household strategies and determinants. J Environ Manag 114:26–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Campos M, Velázquez A, McCall M (2014) Adaptation strategies to climatic variability: a case study of small-scale farmers in rural Mexico. Land Use Policy 38:533–540CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Deressa TT, Hassan RM, Ringler C (2011) Perception of and adaptation to climate change by farmers in the Nile basin of Ethiopia. J Agric Sci 149:23–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Deressa TT, Hassan RM, Ringler C, Alemu T, Yesuf M (2009) Determinants of farmers’ choice of adaptation methods to climate change in the Nile Basin of Ethiopia. Glob Environ Chang 19:248–255CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Elahi E, Abid M, Zhang L, ul Haq S, Sahito JGM (2018) Agricultural advisory and financial services; farm level access, outreach and impact in a mixed cropping district of Punjab, Pakistan. Land Use Policy 71C:249–260CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gbetibouo GA (2009) Understanding farmers’ perceptions and adaptations to climate change and variability: The case of the Limpopo Basin, South Africa. International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  18. GOPP (2010a) Gujrat city profile. Punjab cities improvement investment program. Government of Punjab, Pakistan, Lahore. Accessed 16 Jun 2015
  19. GOPP (2010b) Rahim Yar Khan city profile. Punjab cities improvement investment program. Government of Punjab, Pakistan, Lahore. Accessed 16 Jun 2015
  20. Gorst A, Groom B, Dehlavi A (2015) Crop productivity and adaptation to climate change in Pakistan. Working paper No. 214. Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy, London, UKGoogle Scholar
  21. Habtemariam LT, Gandorfer M, Kassa GA, Heissenhuber A (2016) factors influencing smallholder farmers’ climate change perceptions: a study from farmers in Ethiopia. Environ Manag 58(2):343–358CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hageback J, Sundberg J, Ostwald M, Chen D, Yun X, Knutsson P (2005) Climate variability and land-use change in Danangou watershed, China—examples of small-scale farmers’ adaptation. Clim Change 72:189–212CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hanif U, Syed SH, Ahmad R, Malik KA, Nasir M (2010) Economic impact of climate change on the agricultural sector of Punjab [with Comments]. Pak Dev Rev 4:771–798Google Scholar
  24. Hisali E, Birungi P, Buyinza F (2011) Adaptation to climate change in Uganda: evidence from micro level data. Glob Environ Chang 21:1245–1261CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Howden SM, Soussana J-F, Tubiello FN, Chhetri N, Dunlop M, Meinke H (2007) Adapting agriculture to climate change. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 104:19691–19696Google Scholar
  26. IPCC (2014) Climate change 2014: Impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. Part a: global and sectoral aspects. contribution of working group II to the fifth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK and New York, NY, p 1048Google Scholar
  27. Jianjun J, Yiwei G, Xiaomin W, Nam PK (2015) Farmers’ risk preferences and their climate change adaptation strategies in the Yongqiao District, China. Land Use Policy 47:36–372CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kassie M, Jaleta M, Shiferaw B, Mmbando F, Mekuria M (2013) Adoption of interrelated sustainable agricultural practices in smallholder systems: evidence from rural Tanzania. Technol Forecast Soc 80:525–540CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Keshavarz M, Karami E, Zibaei M (2014) Adaptation of Iranian farmers to climate variability and change. Reg Environ Change 14:1163–1174CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lal M (2011) Implications of climate change in sustained agricultural productivity in South Asia. Reg Environ Change 11:79–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Le Dang H, Li E, Bruwer J, Nuberg I (2014a) Farmers’ perceptions of climate variability and barriers to adaptation: lessons learned from an exploratory study in Vietnam. Mitig Adapt Strat GL 19:531–548Google Scholar
  32. Le DangH LiE, Nuberg I, Bruwer J (2014b) Understanding farmers’ adaptation intention to climate change: a structural equation modelling study in the Mekong delta, Vietnam. Environ Sci Policy 41:11–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Maddison D (2007) The perception of and adaptation to climate change in Africa. Policy Research Working Paper No. 4308. World Bank, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  34. Mertz O, Mbow C, Reenberg A, Diouf A (2009) Farmers’ perceptions of climate change and agricultural adaptation strategies in rural Sahel. Environ Manag 43:804–816CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Nakicenovic N, Alcamo J, Grubler A, Riahi K, Roehrl RA, Rogner HH, Victor N (2000). Special report on emissions scenarios (SRES), a special report of Working Group III of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge University Press: CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  36. NAMC (2012) Monthly agromet bulletin for Pakistan. National Agromet Cenre (NAMC), Pakistan Meeorological Department, Islambad, Pakistan, p 11Google Scholar
  37. Raguindin DR, de Vera EA (2012) A multivariate probit analysis on the factors influencing the adoption of water saving technologies by rice farmers in Sto. Domingo, Nueva Ecija. The Philippine. Statistician 61(1):109–121Google Scholar
  38. Rasul G, Mahmood A, Sadiq A, Khan S (2012) Vulnerability of the Indus delta to climate change in Pakistan Pak J Meteorol 8:89–107Google Scholar
  39. Reid H, Huq S (2007) Community-based adaptation: a vital approach to the threat climate change poses to the poor. IIED Briefing, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), London, UKGoogle Scholar
  40. Roco L, Engler A, Bravo-Ureta B, Jara-Rojas R (2014) Farm level adaptation decisions to face climatic change and variability: evidence from Central Chile. Environ Sci Policy 44:86–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Semenza JC, Hall DE, Wilson DJ, Bontempo BD, Sailor DJ, George LA (2008) Public perception of climate change: voluntary mitigation and barriers to behavior change. Am J Prev Med 35:479–487CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Van Aalst MK, Cannon T, Burton I (2008) Community level adaptation to climate change: the potential role of participatory community risk assessment. Glob Environ Chang 18:165–179CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Zampaligré N, Dossa LH, Schlecht E (2014) Climate change and variability: perception and adaptation strategies of pastoralists and agro-pastoralists across different zones of Burkina Faso. Reg Environ Chang 14:769–783CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Zhu T, Ringler C, Iqbal MM, Sulser TB, Goheer MA (2013) Climate change impacts and adaptation options for water and food in Pakistan: scenario analysis using an integrated global water and food projections model. Water Int 3:651–669CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Zulfiqar F, Ullah R, Abid M, Hussain A (2016) Cotton production under risk: a simultaneous adoption of risk coping tools. Nat Hazards 84:959–974CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Muhammad Abid
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Jürgen Scheffran
    • 2
  • Uwe A. Schneider
    • 3
  • Ehsan Elahi
    • 4
  1. 1.Centre for Climate Research and Development (CCRD)COMSATS University IslamabadIslamabadPakistan
  2. 2.Research Group Climate Change and Security (CLISEC), Institute of Geography, Center for Earth System Research and Sustainability (CEN)University of HamburgHamburgGermany
  3. 3.Research Unit Sustainability and Global Change, Center for Earth System Research and Sustainability (CEN)University of HamburgHamburgGermany
  4. 4.School of BusinessNanjing University of Information Science and TechnologyNanjing ShiChina

Personalised recommendations