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Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) practices in smallholder agriculture; emerging evidence from rural Pakistan

Shah, Syed Irshad Ali, Zhou, Jiehong, Shah, Ashfaq Ahmad
Journal of cleaner production 2019 v.218 pp. 673-684
agroecology, biodiversity, carbon sinks, climate, ecosystems, farmers, greenhouse gas emissions, groundwater, households, intensive farming, issues and policy, models, nongovernmental organizations, small-scale farming, social capital, soil erosion, surveys, trees, water pollution, water quality, water table, Pakistan
Ecosystems and biodiversity provide many critical life support functions including clean water, food, climate regulation, and recreational services. Despite its significant values biodiversity in Pakistan is being lost at a significant rate particularly due to agriculture intensification. The intensive agriculture system leading to serious environmental damages including biodiversity loss, water pollution, soil degradation, disruption of carbon sink and increase in GHG emissions. There is a growing recognition of promoting Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) strategies in smallholder agriculture; however, there is limited information about the existing EbA strategies by smallholder farmers and factors that influence the adoption of these practices. This article addresses research gap by using a survey data of 360 households from three districts of Pakistan. We explored existing EbA practices used by farmers and factors associated with the use of these practices. The list of ecosystem-based adaptation practices (EbA) was created on the basis of literature review and with the assistance of expert opinions. This study identified a number of risks associated with ecosystem degradation as perceived by smallholder farmers such as salinization, water pollution, soil erosion and decline in crop productivity. Due to overexploitation of underground water and extensive use of external inputs for agriculture use, the majority of farmers reported decline in water quality and depth of the underground water table. We used a double hurdle model for adoption and intensity of adaptation practices. The results show that farmers' social capital and institutional access increase the probability and intensity of adoption of EbA practices. The study suggests that a majority of smallholder farmers in Pakistan are already using certain EbA strategies, but there is still scope for larger implementation. Institutional policies and non-government organizations (NGOs) can increase broader use of EbA strategies by facilitating farmers’ access to subsidized tree nurseries, farmer-to-farmer information and promoting EbA policies in different socioeconomic and agro-ecological context.