Engaging farmers on climate risk through targeted integration of bio-economic modelling and seasonal climate forecasts

Nidumolu, U B and Lubbers, M and Kanellopoulos, A and van Ittersum, M K and Kadiyala, M D M and Sreenivas, G (2016) Engaging farmers on climate risk through targeted integration of bio-economic modelling and seasonal climate forecasts. Agricultural Systems, 149. pp. 175-184. ISSN 0308521X

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Seasonal climate forecasts (SCFs) can be used to identify appropriate risk management strategies and to reduce the sensitivity of rural industries and communities to climate risk. However, these forecasts have low utility among farmers in agricultural decision making, unless translated into a more understood portfolio of farm management options. Towards achieving this translation, we developed a mathematical programming model that integrates seasonal climate forecasts to assess ‘what-if?’ crop choice scenarios for famers. We used the Rayapalli village in southern India as a case study. The model maximises expected profitability at village level subject to available resource constraints. The main outputs of the model are the optimal cropping patterns and corresponding agricultural management decisions such as fertiliser, biocide, labour and machinery use. The model is set up to run in two steps. In the first step the initial climate forecast is used to calculate the optimal farm plan and corresponding agricultural management decisions at a village scale. The second step uses a ‘revised forecast’ that is given six weeks later during the growing season. In scenarios where the forecast provides no clear expectation for a dry or wet season the model utilises the total agricultural land available. A significant area is allocated to redgram (pigeon pea) and the rest to maize and paddy rice. In a forecast where a dry season is more probable, cotton is the predominant crop selected. In scenarios where a ‘normal’ season is expected, the model chooses predominantly cotton and maize in addition to paddy rice and redgram. As part of the stakeholder engagement process, we operated the model in an iterative way with participating farmers. For ‘deficient’ rainfall season, farmers were in agreement with the model choice of leaving a large portion of the agriculture land as fallow with only 40 ha (total area 136 ha) of cotton and subsistence paddy rice area. While the model crop choice was redgram in ‘above normal and wet seasons, only a few farmers in the village favoured redgram mainly because of high labour requirements, and the farmers perceptions about risks related to pests and diseases. This highlighted the discrepancy between the optimal cropping pattern, calculated with the model and the farmer's actual decisions which provided useful insights into factors affecting farmer decision making that are not always captured by models. We found that planning for a ‘normal’ season alone is likely to result in losses and opportunity costs and an adaptive climate risk management approach is prudent. In an interactive feedback workshop, majority of participating farmers agreed that their knowledge on the utility and challenges of SCF have highly improved through the participation in this research and most agreed that exposure to the model improved their understanding of the role of SCF in crop choice decisions and that the modelling tool was useful to discuss climate risk in agriculture.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Research Program : Innovation Systems for the Drylands (ISD)
CRP: CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems
Uncontrolled Keywords: Mathematical programming; Probabilistic seasonal forecasts; Crop choice; Climate risk; Small holder farmers; Profit maximisation; Seasonal climate forecasts; Bioeconomic crop choice model; SCF; Climate risk
Subjects: Others > Agriculture
Others > Climate Change
Depositing User: Mr Ramesh K
Date Deposited: 18 Oct 2016 10:13
Last Modified: 13 Sep 2017 04:01
URI: http://oar.icrisat.org/id/eprint/9739
Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.agsy.2016.09.011
Acknowledgement: Thework presented in the paper is part of the Australian Aid Agency for International Development (AusAID)/Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and CSIRO funded project “Can seasonal climate forecasts improve food security in Indian Ocean Rim countries in a variable and changing climate?”. We acknowledge AusAID/DFAT and CSIRO. Farming communities and in-country partner institutions participated in this activity with enthusiasm and contributed to discussions and provided valuable feedback on the model. Peter Hayman (South Australian Research and Development Institute, Adelaide) provided insights into challenges of applying SCF in agricultural decision making and discussion around using the term normal in SCF. D.R. Reddy (PJTS Agricultural University, Hyderabad), V. Nageswara Rao (ICRISAT, Hyderabad), T. Chiranjeevi (Livelihoods and Natural Resources Management Institute) provided useful inputs and feedback on themodel. David Gobbett and Alison Laing fromCSIRO provided useful comments to improve the manuscript.
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