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Coping With Drought in Rice Farming in Aisa

Coping With Drought in Rice Farming in Aisa

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Published by hbhandari
Rice farmers coping mechanisms to drought in Asia
Rice farmers coping mechanisms to drought in Asia

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Published by: hbhandari on Jun 16, 2012
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Volume 37 Issue s1, Pages 213 - 224
Published Online:
19 Dec 2007© 2010 International Association of Agricultural Economists
Coping with drought in rice farming in Asia: insightsfrom a cross-country comparative study
Sushil Pandey
, Humnath Bhandari
, Shijun Ding
, Preeda Prapertchob
, RameshSharan
, Dibakar Naik 
, Sudhir K. Taunk 
, and Asras Sastri
Drought is a major constraint affecting rice production, especially in rainfed areas of Asia. Despite its importance inrice-growing areas, the magnitude of economic losses arising from drought, its impact on farm households, and farm-ers’ drought coping mechanisms are poorly understood. This article provides insights into these aspects of drought basedon a cross-country comparative analysis of rainfed rice-growing areas in southern China, eastern India, and northeastThailand. The economic cost of drought is found to be substantially higher in eastern India than in the other two countries.Higher probability and greater spatial covariance of drought and less diversified farming systems with rice accounting for alarger share of household income are the main reasons for this higher cost of drought in eastern India. Farmers deploy variouscoping mechanisms but such mechanisms are largely unable to prevent a reduction in income and consumption, especially ineastern India. As a result, welfare consequences on poor farmers are substantial with a large number of people falling back intopovertyduringdroughtyears.Theoverallimplicationsfortechnologydesignandforpolicyimprovementsfordroughtmitigationand drought relief are discussed in the light of the empirical findings of the study.
 JEL classification:
D1, I3
drought; economic cost; coping mechanisms; poverty
1. Introduction
Climate-relatednaturaldisasters(drought,flood,andtyphoon)areprincipalsourcesofriskanduncertaintiesin agriculture. These are important constraints affect-ing the production of rice—the staple crop of Asia.Although the production of rice has increased over
Social Sciences Division, International Rice Research Institute(IRRI), Los Banos, Laguna, Philippines.
 International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences(JIRCAS), 1-1, Ohwashi, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8686, Japan.
 Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, #1 South Nanhu Road, Wuhan City, Hubei Province, P.R. China 430073.
Khon Kaen University, 123 Mittraparp Highway, Khon Kaen,Thailand 40002.
Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology, Bhubaneswar-751003, Orissa, India.
 Indira Gandhi Agricultural University, Raipur, India.
time in the wake of the green revolution, major short-falls caused by climatic aberrations such as droughtand flood are frequent. At least 23 million ha of ricearea (20% of total rice area) in Asia is estimated to bedrought-prone (Pandey et al., 2007).Theeconomiccostsofdroughtcanbeenormous.Forexample, drought has been historically associated withfood shortages of varying intensities, including thosethat have resulted in major famines in different partsof Asia and Africa. In India, major droughts in 1918,1957–1958, and 1965 resulted in famines during the20th century (FAO, 2001). The 1987 drought affectedalmost 60% of the total cropped area and 285 mil-lion people across India (Sinha, 1999). Similarly, theaverage annual drought-affected area in China during1978–2003 is estimated to have been 14 million haandthedirecteconomiccostofdroughtisestimatedtohavebeen 0.5–3.3% of the agricultural sector GDP. In Thai-land, the drought of 2004 is estimated to have affected
Sushil Pandey et al.
2 million ha of cropped area and over 8 million people(Bank of Thailand, 2005).Theeffectofdroughtonhumansocietiescanbemul-tidimensional. The effect of drought in terms of pro-duction losses and consequent human misery is wellpublicizedduringyearsofcropfailure.However,lossesto drought of milder intensity, although not so visible,can also be substantial. Production loss, which is oftenused as a measure of the cost of drought, is only a partoftheoveralleconomiccost.Severedroughtscanresultin starvation and even death of the affected population.However,differenttypesofeconomiccostsarisebeforesuch severe consequences occur. Due to market fail-ures,farmersattemptto
bymakingcostlyadjustments in their production practices and adoptingconservative practices to reduce the negative impactduring drought years. Although these adjustments re-duce the direct production losses, they themselves en-tail some economic costs in terms of opportunities forincome gains lost during good years.In rural areas where agricultural production is a ma- jor source of income and employment, a decrease inagricultural production will set off second-round ef-fects through forward and backward linkages of agri-culture with other sectors. A decrease in agriculturalincome will reduce the demand for products of theagroprocessing industries that cater to the local mar-kets. This will lead to a reduction in income and em-ployment in this sector. Similarly, the income of ruralhouseholds engaged in providing agricultural inputswill also decrease. This reduction in household in-comes will set off further
effects. By thetime these effects have been fully played out, the over-all economic loss from drought may turn out to be sev-eral times more than what is indicated by the loss inproduction of agricultural output alone. The loss inhousehold income can result in a loss in consump-tion of the poor whose consumption levels are alreadylow. Farmers may attempt to cope with the loss byliquidating productive assets, pulling children out of school, migrating to distant places in search of em-ployment, and going deeper into debt. The economicandsocialcostsofalltheseconsequencescanindeedbeenormous.Much of the current knowledge on drought is basedmainly on arid and semiarid regions (Jodha, 1978;Campbell, 1999; Hazell et al., 2001; Rathore, 2004;Shivakumar and Kerbart, 2004). Despite reasonablyhigh rainfall, drought occurs frequently in the subhu-midregionsofAsia(Steyaertetal.,1981).However,thenature and frequency of drought in subhumid regions,itsimpactonfarmerlivelihoods,farmers
droughtcop-ing strategies, and welfare implication of drought havenotbeenadequatelystudied.Analysesofdroughtchar-acteristics, drought impacts, and household copingmechanisms are important for understanding the na-ture of risk and vulnerability associated with droughtand for formulating various interventions for effectivedrought mitigation.This article provides a synthesis of 
ndings and rec-ommendations based on a recent cross-country com-parative study of the impact of drought and farmers
coping mechanisms (Pandey et al., 2007). The coun-triesincludedinthestudywereChina,India,andThai-land. These countries vary in climatic conditions, thelevel of economic development, rice yields, and in-stitutional and policy contexts of rice farming. Thespeci
c regions selected for the study were south-ern China, eastern India, and northeast Thailand. Insouthern China, the provinces included were Hubei,Guangxi, and Zhejiang. Eastern India was representedbythestatesofChattisgarh,Jharkhand,andOrissa.Allprovinces of northeast Thailand were included. Someof the basic characteristics of rice production systemsandeconomicindicatorsofthecountries/regionsinthestudy are summarized in Table 1.
2. Drought: definition, coping mechanismsand consequences
Conceptually, drought is considered to describe asituation of limited rainfall that is substantially belowwhat has been established to be a
value forthe area concerned, leading to adverse consequenceson human welfare. Although drought is a climaticallyinducedphenomenon,itsimpactdependsonsocialandeconomiccontextaswell.Hence,inadditiontoclimate,economic and social parameters should be also takeninto account in de
ning drought. This makes develop-ing a universally applicable de
nition of drought im-practical. Three generally used de
nitions of droughtare based on meteorological, hydrological, and agri-cultural perspectives (Wilhite and Glantz, 1985).Meteorological drought is de
ned as a situation inwhich the actual rainfall is signi
cantly below the

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