Climate change adaptation by subsistence and smallholder farmers: Insights from three agro-ecological regions of Nepal

Thumbnail Image
File version

Version of Record (VoR)

Karki, Sikha
Burton, Paul
Mackey, Brendan
Griffith University Author(s)
Primary Supervisor
Other Supervisors
File type(s)

The unprecedented challenges posed by climate change necessitate agricultural adaptation by farmers, especially in the regions of Asia, where rain-fed agriculture is the principal source of food production. Studying adaptation not only assists in knowing how farmers are dealing with the repercussions of climate change, but also provides the baseline for the planned interventions which are essential in this era of human-instigated climate change. We used case study data to examine whether and how subsistence-oriented smallholder farmers in three agro-ecological zones of Nepal (Terai, Hill, and Mountain) are developing and implementing adaptation strategies. The findings from small farm household interviews (n = 384), key informant interviews (n = 33), and focus group discussions (n = 3) suggest that farmers are dealing with the challenges facing their traditional agricultural practices. The main adaptation strategies include changing crop types and varieties, adding fertilizers, the use of new technologies, soil and water management, diversification of income sources, and migration. Both climatic and non-climatic factors were found to influence these subsistence smallholder farmers’ adaptation practices. However, climatic factors that are beyond individual control threatened the livelihood of rural farmers who predominantly rely on natural resources for their livelihood and income. The findings highlight the interplay of multiple agents: local farmers, community-based organizations, and the local and central government organizations in the role they play in assisting farmers adapt to the impacts of climate change; this interplay emphasizes the need for collaboration for effective adaptation. The findings from this study can inform policymakers about ongoing adaptation measures as well as the needs of farmers. This information can assist in bridging the gap between farm households and policymakers and help develop suitable policies and effective adaptation strategies within this local Nepalese context.

Journal Title

Cogent Social Sciences

Conference Title
Book Title




Thesis Type
Degree Program
Publisher link
Patent number
Grant identifier(s)
Rights Statement
Rights Statement

© 2020 The Author(s). This open access article is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) 4.0 license, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Item Access Status
Access the data
Related item(s)

Environmental sciences

Social Sciences, Interdisciplinary

Social Sciences - Other Topics

Climate change

adaptation strategies

Persistent link to this record

Karki, S; Burton, P; Mackey, B, Climate change adaptation by subsistence and smallholder farmers: Insights from three agro-ecological regions of Nepal, Cogent Social Sciences, 2020, 6 (1)