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REPORT: Addressing the information and knowledge needs of farmers to enable climate change adaptation – A study of Bundelkhand region in Central India

Climate change poses a direct and growing threat to the livelihoods of millions of people in India. Poor rural households, whose livelihoods depend predominantly on agriculture and natural resources, will bear a disproportionate burden of adverse impacts of climate change (Satapathy et al. 2011, Mendelsohn et al. 2007, Kates 2000) and thus should be the focus of adaptation interventions. The impacts of climate change vary by agro-climatic zones, socio-economic factors and other facets of vulnerability; response capacities of communities also vary. Therefore, adaptation to climate change is different across locations, making it a local process (Blaikie et al, 1994 Agrawal et al. 2008). In order to enable practical adaptation at the grassroots level, it is vital that systems for information and knowledge sharing between scientists, policymakers and community institutions at the local level exist and function well.

This paper, Addressing the information and knowledge needs of farmers to enable climate change adaptation – A study of Bundelkhand region in Central India, analyses key challenges in the outreach of locally appropriate information to support decision making for adaptation to climate change impacts in small-scale agriculture. Primary surveys from the Bundelkhand region of central India suggests that farmers make planting decisions based on sources of information from within their local communities and traditional indicators of seasonal change not necessarily informed by scientific research. There is a pressing need to strengthen institutions that work as knowledge intermediaries by translating scientific information into usable knowledge that links to existing practice and knowledge in a local context. There is also a need to use media that is accessible to small scale farmers for dissemination of locally relevant information.

This paper is part of the CDKN-funded project, Shubh Kal (a better future): from information to knowledge and action which has successfully piloted a communication model to bridge the communication gap between communities, scientists and government officials. The project aimed to strengthen community knowledge and voice on climate change impacts and adaptation, by exploring community radio as a medium for disseminating climate change messages and sharing farming communities’ experiences of adapting to climate change.

Further reading:

Project homepage: Shubh Kal (a better future): from information to knowledge and action
Research paper: Community Grassroots and Climate Change Communication: Mapping Grassroots Experiences of the ‘Shubh Kal’ Project in Bundelkhand, Central India
Research paper: Use of Seasonal Forecast Information in Farm Level Decision Making in Bundelkhand, India

 

Image credit: Neil Palmer/CIAT