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Vulnerability in Agriculture

Znaor, Darko (2009) Vulnerability in Agriculture. In: Landau, S.; Legro, S. and Vlašić, S. (Eds.) A Climate for Change: Climate Change and its Impacts on Society and Economy in Croatia: UNDP’s National Human Development Report 2008. United Nations Development Programme, Country Office Croatia, Zagreb, pp. 119-148.

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The impact from climate change on agriculture is expected to be significant because of the vulnerability of agriculture to climate conditions in general. Precipitation, temperature, weather extremes and evaporation rates all impact production. Agriculture is important to the economy of Croatia due to its overall value and its impact on food security, vulnerable populations, and the employment it generates. In 2001, 92% of Croatia was classified as rural and 48% of the Croatian population lived in rural areas. Generally, rural households are more vulnerable due to poorer access to basic infrastructure and poorer housing conditions than households in urban areas.
Existing climate variability already has a significant impact on agriculture. Extreme weather events have resulted in average losses of EUR 176 million per year during 2000-2007. This represents 0.6% of national GDP, or 9.3% of the GVA generated by the agricultural, forestry and fisheries sector. Looking at the future effect on maize alone, the lost revenue due to climate change would be EUR 6-16 million in 2050 and EUR 31-43 million in 2100. This corresponds to 0.8-5.7% of all revenue from arable crop sales in Croatia in 2005. Most of this damage is due to water shortage during critical times, as well as flooding and hail-storms which also cause damage. Particular years, such as 2003 and 2007, suffered huge economic damage that is difficult to recover. While some Government-supported insurance programmes and a new irrigation programme exist, current vulnerability to climate variability remains – particularly related to drought.
However, little information is available to assess the consequences of farm practices and climate variables. There are few crop models or agricultural sector economic models that would help the sector understand current levels of vulnerability or future levels due to climate change. Furthermore, basic economic information about the sector and about the gross margins of crops is not available. Thus, while climate change may be a risk in the future, there are a number of actions that could be taken now to address current vulnerability to the climate.
Models to simulate the effects of climate (including climate change) on crops need to be calibrated for Croatian conditions to understand how the country should adapt. Furthermore, the Government should conduct a comprehensive overhaul of its existing systems for collecting data on agricultural production, prices and accounting for farm revenues/ costs in order to produce information. This should reflect the reality of the situation on the ground.
A multi-crop, multi-region agricultural sector model should be developed to assist the public sector in developing strategies and measures for coping with existing economic development, pressures to preserve the quality of the environment, climate variability and finally climate change. This would also assist farmers in implementing best management practices, as well as support national agricultural development and marketing strategies. More work also needs to be done to assess economic impacts from the agricultural sector on the larger economy.
Adaptation options can only be evaluated once a basic understanding of the interaction between climate, agricultural production and the economy is developed. This should include a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of the Government’s current large irrigation programme, as well as the other programmes discussed in this chapter as possibilities for dealing with water shortages. Adaptive actions may require a change of practice and may include management changes, technical adaptation/ equipment changes and infrastructure measures (e.g. the choice of crop variety and pesticides, sowing dates, the adoption of new husbandry practices, on-farm water harvesting and storage facilities, irrigation systems, etc.).
Promoting the adoption of organic farming is an effective option of adaptation to climate change. Organic farming avoids, or largely excludes, the use of synthetically produced fertilisers, pesticides, growth regulators and livestock feed additives. Organic farming systems rely on crop rotations, crop residues, animal manure and mechanical cultivation to maintain soil productivity, supply plant nutrients and to control weeds, insects and other pests. Water use appears to be much more efficient on organic farms. The FAO states that “properly managed organic farming helps to conserve water and soil on the farm” and that “due to the change in soil structure and organic matter content under organic management, water efficiency is likely to be high".

EPrint Type:Book chapter
Keywords:Organic farming as an option of adaptation to climate change; Organic farming as an no regrets and low regrets adaptation to climate change option; impact of climate variability and extreme weather on agriculture; climate variability and climate change in the agricultural sector; Available technological options for adaptation to climate change; Croatia
Subjects: Food systems > Recycling, balancing and resource management
Environmental aspects > Air and water emissions
Food systems > Policy environments and social economy
Knowledge management > Research methodology and philosophy
Research affiliation:Other countries
International Organizations > Other organizations
Deposited By: Znaor, Dr Darko
ID Code:26384
Deposited On:18 Jun 2014 13:12
Last Modified:12 Aug 2014 06:34
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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