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Since 1998 the IPCC has reported a growing scientific consensus on the earth’s warming due to anthropogenic increases in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. With rising temperatures, climate change will result in increasingly unpredictable and variable rainfall, varying seasonal patterns and more ...

Since 1998 the IPCC has reported a growing scientific consensus on the earth’s warming due to anthropogenic increases in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. With rising temperatures, climate change will result in increasingly unpredictable and variable rainfall, varying seasonal patterns and more frequent occurrence of extreme weather events. Climate change modifies the growing conditions for crops, weeds, pests and diseases, and means that ‘business as usual’ agriculture will in many places face lower yields. Smallholders, however, have a number of response options, with various consequences for broader society: 1) abandon farming and seek urban jobs, 2) adjust crop, soil and/or water management practices for current crops, 3) shift to other sources of germplasm of current or ‘new’ crops, 4) make use of trees to modify and buffer the microclimate in which crops grow and livestock is kept, 5) diversify production as risk mitigation measure, 6) cooperate on market access and mutual crop insurance schemes.

Much of the climate change adaptation literature to date has either been focused on technical ‘solutions’ (such as improved germplasm, ecophysiological analysis of response to temperature plus CO2 concentrations perspective), or based on farmer responses to broad questions about their strategies and tactics. Joint analyses of technical (ecophysiological) plus social (economic) aspects, in the context of smallholder (family) farms and their constraints are still scarce. Most of climate adaptation for agriculture relies on weather station data and models without considering the range of microclimates that farmers can manage, e.g. by modifying tree cover. There is an ongoing debate on ‘climate shift’ (the new climate for place X may already currently exist in place Y), or emergence of novel conditions, outside of the adaptation range of current crops or livestock. Climate shift analysis calls for cross-site learning, with the social and cultural constraints that may apply. Weak linkages and coordination with other land use sectors has limited cooperation and synergy--despite having recognized its vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, the agriculture sector remained siloed in its approach to climate risk management.

Our goal in this collection therefore is to provide space for new, more integrated accounts of how smallholders have dealt with past climate variability and could be further enabled to deal with more uncertainty and predictable change (trends) with focus on the (sub)tropics and its agrodiversity, and a landscape perspective/approach to managing risks.

The collection will include original solution-oriented manuscripts from scholars and researchers in the tropical world, and critical review/synthesis papers on the various risk management pathways in social-ecological contexts. Manuscripts covering one or more of the themes below are welcome.
• Comprehensive climate-smart agricultural land use and land use planning based on understanding/assessing land resource capabilities and local climate change scenarios.
• Paradigm shifts in agricultural policies, planning and investment. This includes the use of landscape approaches, multi-sectoral and cross-scale approaches in agricultural climate risk management.
• Diversification (reversing specialization trends) as on-farm and market risk management strategy. This would include technical options that diversify smallholder production systems to spread and manage risks better in the context of supply and value chains.
• Financial risk distribution mechanisms. This includes crop insurance, focusing on viability for smallholders, lessons from success and failures, and overcoming challenges.

Keywords: farms, smallholder agriculture, climate, risk management, agriculture, farmers


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