Climate-Smart Agriculture in Pakistan: Implications for Climate Risk Management, Food Security, and Poverty Reduction
Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) has emerged as a framework for developing and implementing robust agricultural systems, which simultaneously improve food security, living conditions in rural areas, facilitate adaptation to climate change, provide mitigation benefits and improve household welfare. In recent decades, climate variability has made the world agricultural systems more uncertain, causing reproductive failure and severe yield reductions in many crops. At the same time, a growing population with increasing food demand and poverty appeal to adopt CSA at the household level. As adoption rates in developing countries like Pakistan are low, the adverse impacts of climate change such as temperature increases, erratic rainfall patterns, extreme weather conditions significantly undermine agricultural production and food systems in such countries, where hunger, malnutrition, and poverty are already predominant. Climate-smart agricultural (CSA) practices appear to be useful tools in the form of adaption strategies to manage agricultural farms that reduce climate risks and increase farm productivity in the developing world. This study, therefore, contributes to the growing literature on the impact of CSA practices on farm performance, and rural household welfare by exploring climate risk management, the contribution of single or joint adaptation strategies in enhancing farm net returns, food and nutrition security, as well as poverty reduction in rural Pakistan. In particular, the study first examines adaptation to extreme weather conditions impact on farm net returns, and risk measures of this outcome variable (volatility, downside risk exposure, and kurtosis) by using endogenous switching regression (ESR) model to account for selection bias. Secondly, the study employs multinomial endogenous switching regression (MESR) to explore climate risk management through multiple adaptation practices and their impact on household welfare. The study also inspects factors influencing farmers’ decisions to adopt these practices. Finally, the marginal treatment effect approach is employed in analyzing the food and nutrition security as well as the poverty status of rural farm households. The empirical results reveal that adoption of CSA practices exerts a positive and significant impact on reducing volatility, downside risk exposure, and kurtosis of farm net returns. The results further reveal that farmers who adopted CSA practices obtain higher farm net returns. The collective findings from the study show that farmers’ decisions to adopt CSA practices are mainly influenced by temperature and rainfall shocks, education of household head, extension services, the experience of past climate-related shocks (such as floods, droughts, and pest infestation, etc.), climate change information, climate change perception and climate-resilient trainings. Credit constraint is the major barrier faced by the farmers in adopting CSA practices, causing low adoption rates. In the multiple CSA practices’ adoption analysis, the results reveal that soil and water conservation coupled with crop rotation as soil and water conservation exerts the maximum impact on farm net returns earned from adapted plots followed by input mix, diversifying seed variety, and changing cropping calendar, respectively. The findings also show that all of the CSA practices significantly reduce downside risk exposure and crop failure of farm households. Besides, controlling household and farm-level characteristics, climate variability, and regional dummies, the empirical results confirm that observable and unobservable heterogeneity significantly varies across farm households. The results further reveal that adoption of CSA practices significantly reduces household food insecurity and increases household dietary diversity at the lower level of unobserved resistance to adoption and vice versa. The findings also show that farmers who adopted CSA practices experience a lower level of poverty than traditional farmers. These findings call for development policy measures to promote CSA practices across the country through climate change awareness, climate-resilient trainings, and access to extension as well as formal and informal credit sources to enhance adoption rates for increasing agricultural productivity and expanding food systems for a growing population.