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Table 3-1 provides a diagram of this four-way classification of the various coping strategies employed by individuals and production units engaged in agricultural production and lists a number of coping strategies of each type that are employed across different societies of the world. The specific array of strategies observed in particular parts of the world will differ, but in all societies some strategies appearing in each quadrant of the table are used.

An important feature of coping systems is that the strategies in the four quadrants are interdependent. For example, if farmers could alter their crop mix or inputs without cost to take advantage of climatic events after they occur, they would have less need to engage in production practices that reduce the sensitivity of their incomes to climatic variability. Similarly, if farmers' incomes were perfectly insured against reductions due to adverse climate outcomes, they would need to engage less in other ex ante coping strategies that reduce the risk of income loss, and they would have less need to accumulate assets as a buffer against income loss.

Another important feature of agricultural coping evident in the table is that many of the ex ante coping strategies that reduce sensitivity to climatic variations are undertaken mainly to reduce the risk of extreme negative events. For example, buying insurance involves continually paying a small cost to reduce this risk; crop diversification and other hedging

TABLE 3-1 Strategies for Coping with Climatic Variations in Agriculture


Temporal Relationship to Resolution of Uncertainty

Consumption Versus Production

Ex Ante (Based on expectation)

Ex Post (Based on event realization)

Consumption: reduce impact of fluctuations in output on access to consumer goods and services

Accumulate assets

Buy or sell assets

Purchase crop or weather insurance

Receive or provide transfers

Make a sharecropping contract

Seek nonagricultural employment

Arrange to share with family, community

Cash insurance check

Diversify income sources

Accept government disaster payments

Production: reduce adverse impact of climate event on agricultural output and profits; exploit opportunities

Diversify crops, livestock

Reduce or intensify inputs

Select climatically robust seeds, animals

Change crops

Invest or disinvest in irrigation, fertilizer, etc.

Move production


Irrigate fields

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