Impact of seasonal forecast use on agricultural income in a system with varying crop costs and returns: An empirically-grounded simulation
Access to seasonal climate forecasts can benefit farmers by allowing them to make more informed decisions about their farming practices. However, it is unclear whether farmers realize these benefits when crop choices available to farmers have different and variable costs and returns; multiple countries have programs that incentivize production of certain crops while other crops are subject to market fluctuations. We hypothesize that the benefits of forecasts on farmer livelihoods will be moderated by the combined impact of differing crop economics and changing climate. Drawing upon methods and insights from both physical and social sciences, we develop a model of farmer decision-making to evaluate this hypothesis. The model dynamics are explored using empirical data from Sri Lanka; primary sources include survey and interview information as well as game-based experiments conducted with farmers in the field. Our simulations show that a farmer using seasonal forecasts has more diversified crop selections, which drive increases in average agricultural income. Increases in income are particularly notable under a drier climate scenario, when a farmer using seasonal forecasts is more likely to plant onions, a crop with higher possible returns. Our results indicate that, when water resources are scarce (i.e. drier climate scenario), farmer incomes could become stratified, potentially compounding existing disparities in farmers' financial and technical abilities to use forecasts to inform their crop selections. This analysis highlights that while programs that promote production of certain crops may ensure food security in the short-term, the long-term implications of these dynamics need careful evaluation.
Environmental Research Letters
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Gunda, Bazuin, J. T., Nay, J., & Yeung, K. L. (2016). Impact of seasonal forecast use on agricultural income in a system with varying crop costs and returns: an empirically-grounded simulation. Environmental Research Letters, 12(3), 34001–. https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/aa5ef7