Do farmers’ ability and community networks matter in agricultural adaptation to climate change? A case study of Bihar

Project Active from to Energy, State Effectiveness and State

The consequences of climate change have led to significant implications for agricultural productivity. Most especially in poorer Indian states such as Bihar, where farmers rely on traditional agricultural practices, have less room-to-maneuver in response to climate uncertainty  and the resulting changes to overall agricultural productivity. Although, mitigation and adaptation are complementary in nature, adaptation is currently emphasised as a more effective strategy to combat climate change in natural resource-dependent sectors such as agriculture. Thus, it is necessary to draw attention to adaptation strategies that farming communities can adopt to better cope with changing temperature and precipitation levels. This project aims to delineate the impact of autonomous adaptation strategies in response to climate change in Bihar and utilise the findings to feed into state- and national-level policies on agriculture and climate change.

We propose a quantitative assessment to extract the effect of farmers’ inherent ability, and community networks, in adapting to newer farming technologies in response to climate change, while controlling for variables such as resource availability, socio-economic characteristics, and technology. The delineation of these effects on adaptation of agriculture to climate change will help guide our understanding of agriculture, climate and economic policies in Bihar. Moreover, in the short-medium term, the research aims to encourage acclimatisation of practices by farming communities, while in the long-term, this would help transition agriculture to become more productive, with spillovers elsewhere.

This project fills an important knowledge gap in the design of local-, state-, and national-level plans and policies for sustainable agriculture. Further, the knowledge generated from the study can be dovetailed with community-based initiatives like Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Farmers’ Field Schools, Farmers’ Clubs, and Self-help Groups for making them more effective.