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Are farmers’ adaptations enhancing food production? Evidence from China

Wang, Yangjie, Chen, Xiaohong
Regional environmental change 2018 v.18 no.7 pp. 2183-2196
climate change, crop yield, farm management, farmers, food production, households, issues and policy, meteorological data, risk, surveys, China
A primary goal of studying climate change adaptation is to identify the adaptation options that are used to improve crop productivity or reduce the negative impacts of climate change. Many of the adjustments in farm management that farmers adopt do not necessarily represent true adaptations to climate change, an issue often ignored in existing literature and resulting in a risk that policy makers are misled to think that adaptation is easier than it actually is, and thereby underestimate the challenge that climate change presents. The overall goal of this study is to identify whether farmers’ adoptions are enhancing food production and adapting to climate change. The identification uses a plot-level panel from a survey of 619 rural households in three provinces in China and county-level weather data. With the use of plot and county-by-year fixed effects as well as instrumental variable approaches, our estimates show that the autonomous adoptions are not effective in improving crop yields. This implies that farmers’ adoptions cannot be always considered adaptations to climate change. The paper provides a possible explanation for the results and concludes with policy implications.