Acceptance of climate-smart technologies
Source: Flickr, CSISA

Rajasthan is considered the most vulnerable state in India to climate change and has the highest level of rural households dependent on agriculture. A recent paper in ‘Agricultural Systems’ investigates Indian farmers’ preferences and willingness to pay for climate-smart agriculture (CSA) technologies in Rajasthan.  The CSA technologies refer to adaptation options, practices and services that sustainably increase productivity, enhance resilience to climatic stresses, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The study was conducted in 16 villages in four districts in four diverse rainfall zones (ranging from 200mm to 1000mm per year) in Rajasthan. Data was obtained through surveys and group discussions with randomly selected groups of farmers in each village. The study used a stated preference method to analyse farmers' choice of 21 different CSA technologies in diverse rainfall zones. Subsequently, through a bidding exercise and a multinomial model, the study assesses farmers' preferences, characteristics and willingness-to-pay for CSA technologies.

The study finds that of the 21 different CSA technologies, 13 technologies were highly preferred by farmers. Results indicate that farmers' preferences for CSA technologies are marked by some commonalities as well as differences depending on their location and rainfall variability. The most preferred CSA technologies in general were crop insurance, weather based crop agro-advisories, rainwater harvesting, contingent crop planning, and site-specific integrated nutrient management. In low rainfall zones, most farmers preferred crop insurance, rainwater harvesting and storage, fodder management, crop agro-advisories and contingent crop-planning CSA technologies. By contrast, in high rainfall zones, farmers most preferred crop insurance, weather-based crop agro-advisory, climate-smart housing for livestock, agro-forestry and site-specific integrated nutrient management CSA technologies.

In terms of a farmer’s willingness to invest in the preferred CSA technologies, the study finds that farmers are generally willing to pay for certain technologies but not for others, based on the cost of implementation. The preferred technologies that farmers' were generally willing to pay for were integrated pest management, crop insurance, rainwater harvesting, laser land levelling and fodder management. By contrast, farmers appeared reluctant to pay for the following preferred technologies: specific integrated nutrient management, weather based crop agro-advisories, drip irrigation, furrow-irrigated bed planting, agro-forestry, climate-smart housing for livestock, concentrate feeding for livestock, and contingent crop planning. These results suggest that the implementation of these technologies may increase farmers' financial burden so that they might be reluctant to invest in these technologies.

The multinomial probit model results indicate that the age of a farmer has a significant effect on the ranking and choice of CSA technologies. The CSA technologies that were found to be positively influenced by the farmer’s age were: site-specific integrated nutrient management, integrated pest management, laser land levelling, and crop insurance. The results also suggest that the level of rainfall has a significant impact on the types of CSA technologies preferred. For instance, in low rainfall zones, more farmers were interested in CSA technologies that minimize climatic risks.

In conclusion, the study highlights a number of policy implications arising from these results. In particular, the results find that CSA preferences vary according to rainfall; the paper argues that policies need to incorporate these preferences and promote certain CSA technologies that are preferred by farmers in their location. For instance, in low rainfall areas farmers have a greater preference for rainwater harvesting technologies while in high rainfall areas farmer prefer climate-smart housing for livestock. The results also indicate that farmers may not be willing to invest in certain CSA technologies even if there are foreseen benefits. Therefore, adaptation policies need to ensure the provision of information to farmers concerning CSA technologies and provide financial resources supporting the adoption of relevant CSA technologies by farmers. For instance, farmers in the studies have indicated that they generally prefer certain risk mitigation technologies such as crop insurance, agro-advisories and rainwater harvesting; the government can support the adoption of these through clear policies and relatively small financial investments.

By: Bas Paris

Photo credit:Flickr, CSISA