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Are South Indian farmers adaptable to global change? A case in an Andhra Pradesh catchment basin


Global changes are already having an impact on South Indian farmers. Climate change is affecting the agricultural sector since it is dependent on climatic conditions and water resource availability. The impacts tend to be greater in semi-arid hard rock areas with few water resources. Furthermore, South India area is experiencing a profound agrarian crisis, which is linked, among others, to debt and credit problems. The study reported in this paper aims to develop a methodology to compare and rank farmers according to their ability to adapt to global change. The definition of adaptive capacity is based on a livelihood assets approach. Indicators are evaluated through individual surveys among farmers, then, weighted using the analytic hierarchy process and aggregated via compromise programming. The result is a standardized score measuring the distance of each farmer from an ideal adaptive capacity. Farmers are ranked according to this distance, which allows a comparison of their relative ability to adapt. At the basin scale, it shows that the geographic position of farmers is a significant factor in adaptation performance. The proximity of an administrative center contributes to an increase of their adaptive capacity. Small farming areas limit the adaptive capacities of marginal and small farmers while the largest farmers are constrained by economic factors such as large loans. These study findings offer interesting indications on the variability of farmers’ weaknesses and are bringing a better understanding of the causes of poor performance.

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  1. This is a limitation in our study, but the project is working on further improvements to the weighting procedure.


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This study is supported by French Research National Agency (ANR) under the VMCS2008 program (SHIVA project n°ANR-08-VULN-010-01). SHIVA website: We would like to thank the anonymous reviewers of the journal for their useful comments and suggestions.

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Correspondence to S. Aulong.

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Aulong, S., Chaudhuri, B., Farnier, L. et al. Are South Indian farmers adaptable to global change? A case in an Andhra Pradesh catchment basin. Reg Environ Change 12, 423–436 (2012).

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  • Adaptive capacity
  • Analytic hierarchic process
  • Compromise programming
  • Global change
  • India
  • Multi-criteria analysis
  • Sustainable livelihood approach
  • Catchment basin management