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Farmers in a Changing Climate: Does Gender Matter? Food security in Andhra Pradesh, India

This report presents the findings of research undertaken in six villages in two drought-prone districts of Andhra Pradesh in India Mahbubnagar and Anantapur. This FAO study uses gender, institutional, and climate analyses to document the trends in climate variability that men and women farmers are facing and their responses to ensure food security. The research uses gender-sensitive qualitative and quantitative methods and gender analysis techniques to capture the voices of both men and women and quantify the degree to which men’s and women’s responses to climate variability differ. Gender issues in climate variability responses are identified within four broad categories: perceptions, experience, coping strategies and institutional support.

Some key findings include:

  • perceptions of climate variability are found to be very similar between men and women farmers, which match well with climate records showing an increase in drought conditions over the past three decades
  • the experience of both men and women farmers tend to link climate change to changes in key farming activities, however the particular areas of activity and ideas about who has been affected differ according to gender.
  • coping strategies in response to climate variability differ slightly too. In response to persistently unpredictable weather, more male respondents preferred migration in search of wage labour as a coping strategy, whereas more women opted for local wage labour to migration as a coping strategy.
  • most farmers have come to rely on Institutional support to cope with climate variability as farming no longer entirely supports the needs of the farmers’ rural families in the study area. It appears that services related to on-farm activities are available to men more so than women.

A number of recommendations emerge from the report including:

  • there is a urgent need for an improved system of dissemination of climate, crop and rainfall information that is accessible to a wider social spectrum and is democratically applied without biases due to gender, property ownership, caste, age or religion.
  • new resilience patterns are emerging both at the institutional and household level as the gradual breakdown of barriers to women’s empowerment is necessarily enhanced through the need to address new climatic emergencies that may result in new creative solutions. Institutional support and policies should focus on recognising and sustaining these new options.