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Using climate information for building smallholder resilience in India

  • Madhavan Manjula
  • Raj Rengalakshmi
  • Murugaiah Devaraj
  • Summary

Intra-seasonal and inter-annual climate variability is the specific climate-related production risk faced by smallholder rainfed farmers in India. For small holding rainfed farmers, access to reliable extended range and seasonal climate forecast (SCF) information could induce a set of adaptive risk reduction measures. The paper is an attempt to capture the experience of a pilot research study to understand the utility of SCF in generating risk-reducing decisions by players across the agricultural value chain in a semi-arid rainfed agroecosystem in Tamil Nadu, India. The results show that to realise the desired societal benefit of SCF, in addition to forecasts with improved predictive skills, appropriate spatial and temporal scale of the climate variables and effectiveness of the communication process is essential. Social equity in access to climate information across the agricultural value chain and ability and flexibility to adopt by the end users are also decisive factors that determine the effectiveness of climate information in reducing risk in farming. The experience also emphasises the need for strong institutional support to improve resource access and build the capacities of smallholders to translate informed decisions to actions at field level on risk-reducing responses.

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