Climate change and small farmers

Have you ever thought that climate changes can have a great impact on small farmers? Most of the people think only about global warming, sea level rising, holes in the ozone layer or extreme weather. We do not think that climate changes can immediately influence our everyday life, our neighbours or even our own harvest.



Climate change represents an unprecedented challenge to agricultural production not only in the developing countries. It has already started to affect small farmers all around the world. Small farmers are suffering because of extreme weather and generally all climate changes around the world. The extreme vulnerability of small farmers to agricultural risks is important as well as the vulnerability of big agriculture corporations.

Agriculture business is always risky for small farmers and especially for small farmers in developing countries. Weather changes cause droughts, flood or tropical storms and become more and more unpredictable. Speed and intensity of climate changes are as well as unpredictable. Agriculture is very high dependent on the weather. Can you imagine that you will have the abundant harvest without enough sun or rain?

Farms with less than five acres represent about 70 percent of global food production. Small farmers produce the most of world´s food and at the same time are at the greatest risk of losing crops because of the environment changes. The consequences are more harmful in some countries than in others. Even without any climate changes are African small farmers more vulnerable than farmers in developed countries. Farmers in developing countries do not have access to the best seed varieties including heat- and drought-tolerant types, crop insurance, and precision agriculture technologies. European and American farmers in contrast with African farmers, import fertilizers, pesticides, seeds, seasonal workers and equipment from all over the world. Farmers in developed countries have another big advantage, they have access to new varieties of plants which are more resistant to weather changes.



Crop failures and livestock deaths are causing economic losses, raising food prices and undermining food security. How can we fight with these losses and consequences of climate changes? Small farmers need technologies and finances, which can help improve production and reduce climate risks. One of the solutions can be farming associations. These associations put villagers into groups and create small farming collectives. They can have better access to some new practices and technologies; they can experiment with new agricultural techniques. With enough research and technology resources, small farmers can continue to grow enough food.

Most of the countries suffer the consequences of climate change, characterized by reduction and increased variability in rainfall and an increase in temperatures. They do not have access to short-term and long-term weather information, so they are not able to effectively plan the next cropping seasons. These farmers are not fully empowered to make informed decisions about strategies that could affect their vulnerability to climate change in the future. Local communities in low-income countries need support from governments and donors, not only through direct development programs but also through national policies and programs that build sustainable adaptive capacities. It is important to build better rural infrastructure to connect farmers to markets. It can help to get better deals for machinery, seeds or other necessary inputs.

Small farmers are an integral part of our societies and, consequently, the effects of climate change on farmers can threaten food supplies and security as well as increase volatility in global food prices. These farmers are among the most immediately affected but are also the most powerless victims of climate change. Those who contribute least to global emissions are unfairly impacted by the lifestyles of wealthy consumers at the other end of the chain. They usually do not have a chance to participate in international climate change negotiations and global environmental and economic debates. Helping farmers deal with the effects of climate change needs to be a priority for all countries.

Nikola Rajčoková



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