Diversification and intensification of agricultural adaptation from global to local scales
This article (PDF) in PLOS ONE examines two dimensions wherein smallholder farmers may adapt agricultural practices; through intensification or diversification. Aspects of adaptive capacity that are found to increase intensification of adaptation globally include variables associated with access to information and human capital, financial considerations, assets, household infrastructure and experience. In contrast, there are few global drivers of adaptive diversification, with a notable exception being access to weather information, which also increases adaptive intensification. Investigating reasons for adaptation indicate that conditions present in underdeveloped markets provide the primary impetus for adaptation, even in the context of climate change. Comparing determinants across spatial scales reveals a variety of local avenues through which policy interventions can relax economic constraints. Furhtermore, it boosts agricultural adaptation for both intensification and diversification. For example, access to weather information does not affect intensification adaptation in Africa, but is significant at several sites in Bangladesh and India. Moreover, this information leads to diversification of adaptive activities on some sites in South Asia and Central America, but increases specialization in West and East Africa. The overall implications of the findings for policy are something of a good news/bad news story. The good news is that there seem to be some areas (such as access to weather information) that could foster adaptation across scales, particularly with respect to intensity adaptation. The bad news is, that generalizable results, to support policy prescriptions at broad scales, are difficult to come by, particularly at the global scale. Nonetheless, there may be generalizable results that are more evident at regional or country levels. Studying why a given determinant can cause differing results with respect to intensification could be important to policy makers and donor agencies. Studies at lower scales would allow for a better understanding of the specific decision making processes that may be occurring.