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Adaptation to Climate Change by Smallholder Farmers in Rural Communities: Evidence from Sri Lanka

Menike, L.M.C.S., Arachchi, K.A.G.P. Keeragala
Procedia Food Science 2016 v.6 pp. 288-292
agricultural industry, agroecological zones, beans, climate change, climatic factors, crops, cultivars, economic factors, economic structure, education, farmers, food science, food security, households, income, livelihood, loans, markets, paddies, probability, questionnaires, radio, rain, regression analysis, rural communities, small-scale farming, surveys, television, temperature, vegetable growing, wind, Sri Lanka
The agricultural sector plays a key role in Sri Lankan economy, whose major source of livelihoods is smallholder farming in paddy and vegetable cultivation which is highly vulnerable to climate changes having negative impact on food security. To overcome the welfare losses, the smallholder farmers need to identify the changes in climatic variables and adjust to their farming practices to cope up with the climate change. Thus, this study examines how rural smallholder farmers in different agro-ecological zones in Sri Lanka perceive climate change and accordingly adapt to it in their agricultural practices. A questionnaire survey was conducted with a random sample of 125 farmer households distributed in most vulnerable four agro-ecological zones namely, Belihuloya, Ihala Galagama, Mulgama and Kosgama in up country inter mediate zone. The study shows that all the respondents have observed rising trends in temperature and winds and lack of adequate rainfall during last twenty years and in response they have grown short season crops as the main farming practice to adapt to minimize the potential losses on their yields. The results of the logistic regression revealed that social economic factors, environmental factors, institutional factors and the economic structure influence farmers’ choice of adaptation methods to climate change. The size of the household, income, education, accessibility to climate information through television and radio, being a member in farmers’ group, location of the land, crop variety, access to formal loans and distance to input markets had significantly affected adaptation. For instance the farmers who grow beans as the major crop to adapt to climate change has 94% probability with compared to those farmers who do not grow other crops whereas the farmers who come to know the changing patterns of the climate through television and radio have a higher probability (94%) of adaptation to the climate change than those who use other media. Sri Lankan government requires facilitating the smallholder farmers to overcome the constraints in which they face in using adaptation methods to climate change so that the welfare of the farmers and growth of the agricultural sector can be ensured.