Agriculture Reference
In-Depth Information
The challenge of seasonal availability of resources could well be exacerbated by the increas-
ing variability of the climate. Changes in reliability of the start, end and length of the growing
season increases the impact of seasonal availability of resources by delaying or disrupting exist-
ing coping strategies and increasing the unpredictability of the system. Jennings and Magrath
(2009) describe farmer reports from East Asia, South Asia, Southern Africa, East Africa and
Latin America. In this study, farmers indicate significant changes in the timing of rainy seasons
and the pattern of rains within seasons, including:
• moreerraticrainfall,comingatunexpectedtimesinandoutofseason;
• extremestormsandunusuallyintenserainfallarepunctuatedbylongerdryspellswithin
the rainy season;
• increasinguncertaintyastothestartofrainyseasonsinmanyareas;
• shortortransitionalsecondrainyseasonsarebecomingstrongerthannormaloraredisap-
pearing altogether (Jennings and Magrath 2009).
The impact of these changes on farmers with small plots and few resources can be very signifi-
cant. Farming is becoming more risky due to increasing heat stress, lack of water, pests and
diseases that interact with anthropogenic pressures on natural resources (Moore et al ., 2012).
Lack of predictability in agricultural production affects the ability of farmers to invest in
appropriate fertilizer levels or improved, high yielding varieties. These changes in seasonality
occur at the same time as the demand for food is rising and is projected to continue to rise for
the next 50 years (IAASTD, 2008).
Farmer perceptions of change are striking in that they are geographically widespread and
are remarkably consistent across diverse regions ( Jennings and Magrath, 2009), and are based
on farmer interviews not biophysical analyses. Long-term data records derived from satellite
remote sensing can be used to verify these reports, providing necessary analysis and documen-
tation required to plan effective adaptation strategies to these changes by policy makers (Husak
et al ., 2013; Iizumi et al ., 2013). Earth science can provide insight into whether these changes
are likely to continue and their spatial extent (Cook and Vizy, 2012).
Poorly integrated markets, such as those due to an inadequately functioning trading infra-
structure, can hinder the functioning of markets, resulting in food shortages (Zant, 2013).
Poorly integrated markets are often isolated because of low participation in the market by
farmers, resulting in “thin” markets that have too little supply during times of high demand
(before the harvest) and too much supply during times with low demand (after the harvest)
(Garg et al ., 2013). Many households in developing countries seek to be as far as possible self-
sufficient in capital, labor and food to reduce exposure to variability in prices and extremely
high transaction costs (Lutz et al ., 1995). These are both a cause and a consequence of thinly
traded, volatile markets. Thinly traded markets keep the difference between producer and
consumer prices high, further reinforcing households' incentives to minimize their reliance
on markets (Garg et al ., 2013; Kirsten, 2012).
Seasonality in food prices in local markets
Not all communities are able to store grain, and therefore experience price seasonality. (Alder-
man and Shively, 1996). Seasonal price changes may reflect changes in production, particu-
larly in good years when infrastructure and trade constraints reduce the ability of traders to
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