Extreme vulnerability of smallholder farmers to agricultural risks and climate change in Madagascar
Author(s)Harvey, Celia A.
Rakotobe, Zo Lalaina
Rao, Nalini S.
Rabarijohn, Rivo Hasinandrianina
MacKinnon, James L.
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AbstractAcross the tropics, smallholder farmers already face numerous risks to agricultural production. Climate change is expected to disproportionately affect smallholder farmers and make their livelihoods even more precarious; however, there is limited information on their overall vulnerability and adaptation needs. We conducted surveys of 600 households in Madagascar to characterize the vulnerability of smallholder farmers, identify how farmers cope with risks and explore what strategies are needed to help them adapt to climate change. Malagasy farmers are particularly vulnerable to any shocks to their agricultural system owing to their high dependence on agriculture for their livelihoods, chronic food insecurity, physical isolation and lack of access to formal safety nets. Farmers are frequently exposed to pest and disease outbreaks and extreme weather events (particularly cyclones), which cause significant crop and income losses and exacerbate food insecurity. Although farmers use a variety of risk-coping strategies, these are insufficient to prevent them from remaining food insecure. Few farmers have adjusted their farming strategies in response to climate change, owing to limited resources and capacity. Urgent technical, financial and institutional support is needed to improve the agricultural production and food security of Malagasy farmers and make their livelihoods resilient to climate change.