Breakthrough science and innovation

P. Vishwanathan (CCAFS)

Market research for climate-smart agriculture: what farmers are willing to pay for

South Asia

Smallholder farmers across the Indo-Gangetic plain are especially vulnerable to the effects of extreme weather and changes in climate. Although farmers have their own favoured ways of adapting to variable weather and changing climatic conditions, policy makers and agricultural department staff seldom have solid information about what investments farmers actually prefer to make. CCAFS scientists in South Asia and from the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) worked to fill that gap. Through sophisticated surveys, they gathered information on farmer preferences, and what investments farmers are willing to make to help them adapt to changes in climate.

Researchers found that across Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh farmers’ stated preference was to spend on a mix of ways to minimize climatic risks. They considered that buying special seeds or using special machines would represent value for money. Men and women had different preferences. Women tended to prefer giving crops nutrients as and when needed, and following the guidance of agro-advisories on managing crops according to the weather. The size of holdings held by farmers made little difference to preferences, although smallholders tended to put more weight on storing water and safeguarding resources than farmers with large holdings.

In general, researchers found that, in many areas across the Indo-Gangetic plain, farmers had very little knowledge of technologies developed and promoted by advisory services and scientists. Farmers knew very little about weather-based crop advisories, laser land levellers, leaf colour charts and other aids to help minimize climatic risks, but they thought the government should pay for these. Researchers also learned that staff of agricultural departments knew very little about which climate-smart technologies farmers prefer.

Farmers in Kisanpur village in Bhilwara district of Rajasthan, India took part in a climate-smart agriculture prioritisation exercise

Farmers in Kisanpur village in Bhilwara district of Rajasthan, India took part in a climate-smart agriculture prioritisation exercise. BAIF

Farmers’ preferences varied depending upon whether they had to invest their own money. In general, farmers preferred the government to invest in insurance, agro-advisories, and weather forecasts but expressed a willingness to spend their own money on seed tolerant to climatic stresses and on machinery.

Innovative ‘market’ research to determine farmers’ preferences helps influence policy makers and the private sector to promote the climate-smart technologies that farmers are likely to take up and would be willing to pay for. Such research also helps governments to provide climate-smart technologies that farmers are not willing to pay for in the first instance. Governments may need to demonstrate the value of these technologies to persuade farmers that they are a worthwhile investment.