Environment, Development and Sustainability

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 497–525 | Cite as

Agricultural innovation and adaptation to climate change: empirical evidence from diverse agro-ecologies in South Asia

  • Gopal Datt BhattaEmail author
  • Hemant Raj Ojha
  • Pramod Kumar Aggarwal
  • V. Rasheed Sulaiman
  • Parvin Sultana
  • Dhanej Thapa
  • Nimisha Mittal
  • Khemraj Dahal
  • Paul Thomson
  • Laxman Ghimire


While impacts of climate change on agricultural systems have been widely researched, there is still limited understanding of what agricultural innovations have evolved over time in response to both climatic and non-climatic drivers. Although there has been some progress in formulating national adaptation policies and strategic planning in different countries of South Asia, research to identify local-level adaptive strategies and practices is still limited. Through eight case studies and a survey of 300 households in 15 locations in India, Nepal and Bangladesh, this paper generates empirical evidence on emerging agricultural innovations in contrasting socio-economic, geographical and agro-ecological contexts. The study demonstrates that several farm practices (innovations) have emerged in response to multiple drivers over time, with various forms of institutional and policy support, including incentives to reduce risks in the adoption of innovative practice. It further shows that there is still limited attempt to systematically mainstream adaptation innovations into local, regional and national government structures, policies and planning processes. The paper shows that the process of farm-level adaptation through innovation adoption forms an important avenue for agricultural adaptation in South Asia. A key implication of this finding is that there is a need for stronger collaborations between research institutions, extension systems, civil society and the private sector actors to enhance emerging adaptive innovations at the farm level.


Innovation Climate change South Asia Socio-economic drivers Adaptation 



The authors would like to thank all members of site survey teams for collecting data. We would like to thank all interviewees in the local communities. We also extend our thanks to Amit Shrivastava for preparing a nice map of surveyed sites. We appreciate the support from CCAFS’s numerous investors and CGIAR center colleagues and partners. This research project was made possible by funding supports from CCAFS South Asia Program. We would like to recognize and thank all anonymous reviewers for their constructive suggestions and comments. Robert Rivers deserves special thanks for his assistance in editing language.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gopal Datt Bhatta
    • 1
    • 7
    Email author
  • Hemant Raj Ojha
    • 2
  • Pramod Kumar Aggarwal
    • 1
  • V. Rasheed Sulaiman
    • 3
  • Parvin Sultana
    • 4
  • Dhanej Thapa
    • 5
  • Nimisha Mittal
    • 3
  • Khemraj Dahal
    • 6
  • Paul Thomson
    • 4
  • Laxman Ghimire
    • 5
  1. 1.CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), South AsiaInternational Water Management Institute (IWMI)New DelhiIndia
  2. 2.School of Social SciencesUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Centre for Research on Innovation and Science Policy (CRISP)HyderbadIndia
  4. 4.Flood Hazard Research CentreDhakaBangladesh
  5. 5.Southasia Institute of Advance Studies (SIAS)KathmanduNepal
  6. 6.Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science (IAAS)Tribhuwan UniversityKathmanduNepal
  7. 7.Research and StrategyCommunity and Neighborhood ServicesThe City of CalgaryCanada

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