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Climate change impacts on rainfed cropping production systems in the tropics and the case of smallholder farms in North-west Cambodia

Abstract

The consequences of climate change on smallholder farms are locally specific and difficult to quantify because of variations in farming systems, complexity of agricultural and non-agricultural livelihood activities and climate-related vulnerability. One way to better understand the issues is to learn from the experiences of farmers themselves. Thus, this study aimed to better understand rainfed upland cropping systems in NW Cambodia and to identify practical, social and economic constraints to adoption of known climate adaptation options applicable to local agro-ecosystems. The study also sought to document the climate change perceptions and adaptation options employed by farmers to mitigate the climate risks. A household survey was conducted in the districts of Sala Krau and Samlout in North-west Cambodia in 2013 where 390 representatives of households were randomly selected for interviews, group discussions and field observations. The majority of respondents perceived that changes had occurred in the rainfall pattern such as a later start to the monsoon season, decreasing annual rainfall, increasing frequencies of drought and dry spells, and warmer temperatures. Farmers reported reductions in crop yields of 16–27 % over the five-year period of 2008–2012. However, these reductions were not evident in provincial data for the same period. Farmers claimed climate impacts resulted in significant yield reductions, but they appear not to have an effective strategy to adapt to the changes in climate. Further regional research is required to refine climate change adaptation strategies for rainfed upland cropping systems in Cambodia.

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Acknowledgments

We thank the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) for funding this research through the John Allwright Fellowship scheme.

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Correspondence to Van Touch.

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Touch, V., Martin, R.J., Scott, F. et al. Climate change impacts on rainfed cropping production systems in the tropics and the case of smallholder farms in North-west Cambodia. Environ Dev Sustain 19, 1631–1647 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10668-016-9818-3

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Keywords

  • Rainfed cropping systems
  • Climate change
  • Smallholder farms
  • Cambodia
  • Tropics