NIAS Student Presentation: "Rethinking climate change: Vulnerability, perception and adaptation among rice- and wheat farmers in northern India" by Nimisha Agarwal, Lecture Hall, NIAS, 1100 hrs

National Institute of Advanced Studies

Indian Institute of Science Campus



Final Colloquium


 Title: Rethinking climate change: Vulnerability, perception and adaptation among rice- and  wheat farmers in northern India

Candidate: Ms. Nimisha Agarwal


Advisor: Prof. Anindya Sinha

Date:  Friday, 12 January, 2018

Time:  11:00 am

Venue: Lecture Hall, NIAS



Climate change is one of the most complex challenges that we face in current times and will affect human populations across the world. The impacts of climate change are likely to be rather prominent on agricultural systems and on communities dependent on them. Initial scholarship focussed on the effects of climate change on agriculture and used a variety of modelling approaches to predict the long-term impact of such changes. In the past one decade, however, the focus has shifted to understanding the ground impacts of climatic change.

 My doctoral thesis addresses the subject of climate change from the perspective of rice- and wheat farmers in Uttar Pradesh in northern India, focussing on different vulnerability zones in the state. I have examined how traditional knowledge systems and local strategies have been used by farmers to negotiate climatic changes. My observations suggest that the understanding of this global phenomenon is rather different at the local level. The thesis engages with specific issues in the different vulnerability zones studied and examines how different groups of farmers in these regions are impacted by and perceive climate change. Rice and wheat cultivation form the core of agriculture in India and, if affected adversely by changes in climate, could impact our food security. This talk will discuss farmer understandings of climate change, the problems that they face and their reasons for pursuing short-term coping strategies.

 My study further assesses the vulnerability of agriculture to climate change and contributes to the larger comparative project of adaptation strategies that may evolve to respond to climate change. Vulnerability assessments typically adopt a top-down approach, especially when formulating state- and national-level economic or policy decisions. Bottom-up approaches of vulnerability assessment, such as participatory methods, however, reveal disparate resources and the existence of locally appropriate strategies even within the same district. Villages experience disparities, ranging from access to resources to varying socio-economic and environmental conditions. Vulnerability is also not simply restricted to change in climatic conditions – certain populations are more vulnerable than others, on the bases of gender, caste or class, thus making climate change itself an axis of marginalisation. Climate change may thus render differently marginalised sections of the society even more vulnerable. My studies conclude by insisting on the development and adoption of interdisciplinary, culturally sensitive, multi-scalar approaches to further understand the vulnerability of communities to climate change, strategies adopted to combat it and the barriers to such adaptability in rural northern India.


All are invited to attend

Friday, January 12, 2018