Is rainfall gradient a factor of livelihood diversification? Empirical evidence from around climatic hotspots in Indo-Gangetic Plains uri icon

abstract

  • Farmers in the Indo-Gangetic Plains are constantly seeking ways to adapt to changing circumstances and opportunities that include new technologies, institutions, policies, socio-economic and cultural shifts, as well as a changing climate. The relationship between rainfall and local livelihoods is important to devise policies to improve adaptive capacity of farmers to different drivers of changes. The present study investigates whether the spatial variations in rainfall have prompted the location-specific livelihood diversification by using data from 2660 farm families in the climatic risk areas in India, Nepal and Bangladesh. The results show a higher on-farm livelihood diversification in the areas with high rainfall (1500-2100 mm) compared to medium (900-1500 mm) and very high rainfall regimes (> 2100 mm). Based on this study, the optimal range of rainfall for better agricultural livelihood in the context of changing environmental circumstances is from 1500 to 2100 mm. In terms of farm practices changed (proxy of adaptability), farmers responded more frequently to the market-related drivers than climatic stressors. Farmers in climate vulnerable areas (Bihar and coastal Bangladesh for instance) responded more to climatic stressors than those living in relatively less vulnerable areas (Terai for instance). The results imply that livelihood strategies should be tailor-made along the climatic resources such as rainfall, considering other biophysical and socio-economic variations at the spatial scale. Identifying household and farm-level coping strategies along the rainfall gradient can also be useful in targeting interventions to build resilience to shocks.

publication date

  • 2016
  • 2016