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Crop diversification as a household livelihood strategy under environmental stress. Factors contributing to the adoption of crop diversification in shrimp cultivation and agricultural crop farming zones of coastal Bangladesh.

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-11-20, 10:14 authored by Amelie Bernzen, Franziska SohnsFranziska Sohns, Yuanyuan Jia, Boris Braun

Environmental stressors, potentially aggravated by climate change, pose significant challenges to households whose livelihoods rely primarily on crop production in agriculture or aquaculture, particularly in countries of the Global South. In this context, diversified farming systems, or crop diversification, have been discussed as one adaptation strategy of smallholder farming households to reduce their livelihood vulnerability and increase farm resilience.

In coastal Bangladesh, livelihoods based on cultivation of shrimp, prawn, fish, paddy (rice) and other crops are likely to become more vulnerable with accelerated sea level rise, extreme flooding events, cyclone activity, river bank erosion and salinization. While crop diversification in Bangladesh is still low overall, it has been increasing. To understand the factors driving uptake of diversified cropping in different farming production contexts and allow for policy measures addressing regionally specific needs, we explore the (relative) impact and significance of relevant factors contributing to the adoption of crop diversification practices for (i) shrimp cultivation and (ii) agricultural crop farming zones. We specifically include variables representing subjectively perceived risks to study their role in climate change adaptation.

Our findings are based on a quantitative household survey (n=1,188) in nine purposefully selected unions across the delta to capture the diversity of the region. Our results show that the prevalence of crop diversification measures is relatively high in the shrimp cultivation zone, but relatively low in the agricultural crop farming regions. Taken together, the results show that even though direct economic factors seem to be (still) more important for diversification decisions, our study also shows that perceived environmental threats and changes can have a favourable influence on crop diversification and should hence be included in studies investigating causes for land use changes. Yet, there are significant differences with regard to the influence of specific factors on the likelihood to diversify in the two respective zones.

We conclude that greater uptakes of agriculture and aquaculture diversification could represent a promising and more sustainable approach for smallholders in coastal Bangladesh given the right supportive institutional conditions and measures that address specific needs of local communities. A “one-size-fits-all” approach to pushing crop diversification is unlikely to produce adequate and sustainable results.



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Publication title

Land Use Policy





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