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Resilience of smallholder cropping to climatic variability

journal contribution
posted on 2020-06-01, 00:00 authored by Prahlad Lamichhane, Kelly MillerKelly Miller, Michalis HadjikakouMichalis Hadjikakou, Brett BryanBrett Bryan
© 2020 Elsevier B.V. Smallholder agriculture is a major contributor to global food production and is vital for ensuring food security in many developing countries. Smallholder agriculture is a typically complex and heterogeneous social-ecological system that is especially susceptible to climatic variability. Research has often focused on examining climate impacts on crops in smallholder agriculture. However, the resilience of smallholder agriculture in terms of maintaining yield remains largely unexplored. We empirically quantified the resilience of rice, wheat and maize to climatic variabilities for the Far Western Province of Nepal. We calculated resilience indices (RI) comparing the anomalies of actual yield in agricultural statistics to the expected yields generated by a process-based yield simulation model for nine districts across the Terai, Hill and Mountain regions of the province. Based on the sustainable livelihoods framework, we then assessed the degree to which indicator variables correlate with resilience. The results demonstrate the variability of resilience across regions and crops. Terai, Hill and Mountain regions were found to be resilient in wheat, rice and wheat, and maize, respectively. Each region has maintained resilience in at least one crop suggesting that smallholder farmers have prioritised food subsistence. While Nepal's current Agricultural Development Strategy is focused on boosting yields in the Terai, we found the region to be less resilient overall compared to the Hill and the Mountain regions. Theory-driven capital indicators exhibited a weak and often contradictory relationship with resilience. Such indicators, used in isolation, could therefore misguide the resilience assessment in the absence of complementary fine-scale exploratory social research necessary to explain the drivers of resilience in smallholder agriculture and infer policy decisions.



Science of the Total Environment



Article number



1 - 14




Amsterdam, The Netherlands







Publication classification

C Journal article; C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal