Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change

, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp 535–549

Agricultural adaptation to climate change: insights from a farming community in Sri Lanka


DOI: 10.1007/s11027-012-9374-6

Cite this article as:
Esham, M. & Garforth, C. Mitig Adapt Strateg Glob Change (2013) 18: 535. doi:10.1007/s11027-012-9374-6


The vulnerability of smallholder farmers to climate change and variability is increasingly rising. As agriculture is the only source of income for most of them, agricultural adaptation with respect to climate change is vital for their sustenance and to ensure food security. In order to develop appropriate strategies and institutional responses, it is necessary to have a clear understanding of the farmers’ perception of climate change, actual adaptations at farm-level and what factors drive and constrain their decision to adapt. Thus, this study investigates the farm-level adaptation to climate change based on the case of a farming community in Sri Lanka. The findings revealed that farmers’ perceived the ongoing climate change based on their experiences. Majority of them adopted measures to address climate change and variability. These adaptation measures can be categorised into five groups, such as crop management, land management, irrigation management, income diversification, and rituals. The results showed that management of non-climatic factors was an important strategy to enhance farmers’ adaptation, particularly in a resource-constrained smallholder farming context. The results of regression analysis indicated that human cognition was an important determinant of climate change adaptation. Social networks were also found to significantly influence adaptation. The study also revealed that social barriers, such as cognitive and normative factors, are equally important as other economic barriers to adaptation. While formulating and implementing the adaptation strategies, this study underscored the importance of understanding socio-economic, cognitive and normative aspects of the local communities.


AdaptationAgricultural sectorClimate changeSmallholder farmersSri Lanka

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Agricultural SciencesSabaragamuwa University of Sri LankaBelihuloyaSri Lanka
  2. 2.School of Agriculture, Policy and DevelopmentUniversity of ReadingReadingUK