By Kattumuri, Ruth, Ravindranath, Darshini and Esteves, Tashina
Climate and Development, 2015
Rural people in India, particularly farmers, are exposed to climate variability and risk, which is likely to increase due to climate change. This study assessed current adaptation strategies adopted by rural households in two dryland villages of Bagepalli Block, Chikballapur district, Karnataka, in southern India. The adequacy of adaptation strategies was also assessed. The study showed that rural households, and farmers in particular, adopted several practices to cope with current climate risks which include irrigation provisioning (depending on groundwater), shifting cropping pattern (to more resilient but low economically valued crops and varieties), mixed cropping, agroforestry (as a long-term strategy), diversified livestock holdings, and reliance on government development programmes. The adaptation measures also included leaving croplands fallow, sale of assets such as livestock and trees, and migration. Current climate-related responses to agricultural distress are not adequate to cope with even existing climate risks. This further indicates that rural households may not be able to cope with increasing climate variability and climate change. Thus, there is an urgent need to better understand current adaptation strategies and to enhance resilience, and to develop structured adaptation strategies to cope with the risks associated with current and long-term climate change.