Shifting Cultivation

date. 2017-2021

country. Pakistan

method. farm-level surveys

partners.  Pakistan Agricultural Research Council, Wageningen University

funderIDRC (CARIAA HI-AWARE project)

publications. on critical moments in agriculture, the cost and effectiveness of coping, and its limits 

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Crop production is an uncertain business, particularly for the poor. Any departure from optimum growing conditions, such as too much or too little rainfall, too high or too low temperatures, increased cloudiness or sudden wind or hailstorms, can affect crop yields in both rainfed and irrigated conditions. The timing of weather hazards is important; while strong winds might not matter during the development states of a crop, it can lodge a full-grown crop close to harvesting, leading to severe yield loss. Similarly, a mature crop with a well-developed root system might cope with a period of drought that would wilt a small seedling. Critical moments (CMs) are periods of heightened risk within the production season, when crops are more sensitive to certain weather conditions, whether biophysically or due to management or operational constraints.

Farmers have developed a variety of ways to cope with weather variability. The in-season possibilities for avoiding or responding to damage vary; for example, shifting to another crop is often difficult after a crop has been planned. Even if the option to switch or replant is available, the mechanisms to support this flexibility are not developed enough in many countries, and new or additional seed or seedlings or other resources (labour, machinery) may be unavailable within the given time to respond. In multi-cropping systems, farmers are further limited; any change in planting date might affect the subsequent crop growing season or conflict with crop management practices. We’ve assessed farmer’s coping strategies, their costs and their effectiveness. We also analysed the limitations on using coping strategies, including the non-availability of inputs or management issues such as conflicts in the allocation of labour, land or machinery.