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Climate change adaptation strategies and food productivity in Nepal: a counterfactual analysis

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Abstract

It is widely accepted that climate change is having significant effects on global agriculture. However, the precise impacts depend to a large degree on the nature of adaptations which take place. But, little is known about whether adaptation practices adopted by farmers in less-developed countries support farm productivity. To this end, this study first identifies the actual adaptation practices adopted by farming households. This is done by linking farmers’ perception of changes in local climatic conditions, its impact on agricultural production, and the adjustments they have made in response to climate change impacts. Simultaneous equation models are then employed together with the endogenous switching regression methodology to examine the factors that influence farmers’ decisions to adopt different climate change adaptation strategies. How the adoption of these strategies impact food productivity is also examined. Based on a survey of 720 farming households in Nepal, our results show that adoption of adaptation strategies has significantly increased food productivity. Among the adaptation strategies, soil and water management are shown to have the largest impact on food productivity followed by adjustments to the timing of farm operations and crop and varietal adjustment. Factors influencing adoption of adaptation strategies include age and education of the household head (the decision-maker of adaptation strategies), family size, households’ distance to market, farmers’ association with agricultural-related institutions, number of farm plots under cultivation, past climate change experience, access to climate information, belief in climate change, and attitudes towards adaptation. The findings of this study provide insights into designing agricultural adaptation strategies and integrating them in climate change programs and policies.

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Notes

  1. Nepal is divided into three distinct agro-ecological regions, namely, the Terai in the south, the Hill in the center, and the Mountain in the north.

  2. A VDC is an administrative unit in Nepal similar to municipality which is further divided into nine wards. Each ward constitutes one to several villages.

  3. The households in the selected VDC that were not involved in farming activities were excluded from the sampling frame. We asked four to five villagers to identify the households involved in farming. People in Nepalese villages, by nature of their close proximity to each other, are familiar with almost all families in their village. Consequently listing of households involved in farming proved a relatively easy task for them.

  4. The total number of farming households in the selected 48 wards was 4128.

  5. These questions were also included in the household survey questionnaire.

  6. The output variable “food production” is the total value of agricultural production measured as the sum of the value of all cereal, leguminous, and oil seed crops produced by a household in year 2014/2015. This includes the value of both sold quantities and kept quantities in the house for family consumption.

  7. 1 USD = NRs 106.07 (from the website of the Nepal Rastra Bank, accessed on 12/01/2016)

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Acknowledgments

We thank the editor and the referees of this journal for their useful suggestions. We gratefully acknowledge the financial support provided by the Australia Endeavour Postgraduate Scholarship, and the QUT Business School, Queensland University of Technology, Australia. We are also immensely thankful to the farmers who shared their knowledge and information.

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Correspondence to Uttam Khanal.

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Appendix

Appendix

Table 6 Farmers’ perception on climate change, its impact in agriculture, and adaptation actions

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Khanal, U., Wilson, C., Lee, B.L. et al. Climate change adaptation strategies and food productivity in Nepal: a counterfactual analysis. Climatic Change 148, 575–590 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-018-2214-2

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