Local markets, local varieties: Rising food prices and small farmers' access to seed (2009)

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This report outlines how climate change is expected to have serious environmental, economic, and social impacts in South Africa. It states that rural farmers, whose livelihoods depend on the use of natural resources, are likely to bear the brunt of adverse impacts. The research uses a "bottom-up" approach to gain insights from the farmers themselves based on a farm household survey collected from 794 households in the Limpopo River Basin of South Africa for the farming season 2004-2005. Findings from the paper show that the following variables influence farmer perceptions of climate adaptation:
  • household size - large household will be more willing to choose other adaptations such as soil conservation techniques, chemical treatments that are labour-intensive especially in small-scale farming which involves household labour;
  • farming experience - experienced farmers have an increased likelihood of using portfolio diversification, changing planting dates, and changing the amount of land under production;
  • wealth - wealthier households are more willing to adapt by changing their planting dates;
  • farm size - large-scale farmers are more likely to adapt because they have more capital and resources. Therefore, they can easily invest in irrigation technologies, which demand high investment costs;
  • soil fertility - the perception of having highly fertile soil increases the probability that farmers will change their amount of land under cultivation;
  • access to extension services - farmers who have access to extension services are more likely to be aware of changing climatic conditions and to have knowledge of the various management practices that they can use to adapt to changes in climatic conditions;
  • tenure - having secure property rights increases the probability of farmers to adapt by 9 percent. with proper property rights, farmers may be able change their amount of land under cultivation to adjust to new climatic conditions.
The paper concludes that household size, farming experience, wealth, access to credit, access to water, tenure rights, off-farm activities, and access to extension are the main factors that enhance farmer adaptive capacity to climate change. The author emphasizes that governments should design policies that address these factors.
Language: English
Imprint: International Food Policy Research Initiative (IFPRI), IFPRI Issue Brief 59, February 2009: http://www.ifpri.cgiar.org/sites/default/files/publications/ib59all.pdf 2009
Series: Report,