Cost and effectiveness of in-season strategies for coping with weather variability in Pakistan's agriculture

Hassnain Shah*, Christian Siderius, Petra Hellegers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Crops are vulnerable to weather hazards throughout the growth season, with periods of heightened risk described as critical moments. Farmers have a number of ex-ante and in-season options for coping with these events, and ex-post adjustments to farm-household portfolios to further limit the impact on livelihoods if these options fail. Adaptation-related research has focussed mainly on ex-ante or ex-post coping strategies, because in-season approaches tend to be seen as a given, meaning their cost effectiveness is ignored. Based on detailed survey data collected from 287 households in four of the main cropping systems in Pakistan, this study evaluates the impact pathways of hazards and the cost effectiveness of in-season coping strategies. Yield losses varied by 10–30% for 43% of the cases and by 31–50% for another 39%, with the most severe losses caused by the compounding effect of two hazards in one crop season or if both crops in a multi-crop rotation were affected simultaneously. In-season coping options were mostly restricted to the early crop stages and constrained by a short window of time for the response. The application of in-season coping strategies resulted in a yield recovery of 40–95%, with an additional cost of 4–34% of the value of recovered yield. The major critical moments identified were the harvest season, with farming often affected by un-seasonal precipitation, and the germination stage, with an additional high risk for low temperatures at high altitude. A better understanding of the differentiated risks and effectiveness of in-season coping strategies could support the promotion of sustainable crop production in similar agro-ecologies. Moreover, the effectiveness of present-day coping strategies, rather than the use of coping approaches itself, could signal a potential ability to adjust to future climate change.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102746
JournalAgricultural Systems
Volume178
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020

Keywords

  • Compounded impacts
  • Coping
  • Critical moments
  • Crop stages
  • Weather variability

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