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Identifying factors which build or erode the resilience of rice production, and rice farmers, to climatic shocks and natural disasters in Odisha, India.

Submitted by John Duncan 20th September 2014 20:26

Project Details

The PREFUS project is co-led by Dr Jadu Dash and Dr Emma Tompkins at the University of Southampton, and Dr John Duncan is a full time researcher on the project. It is a Leverhulme Trust funded project for two years up until November 2015. 

Adaptation context

Due to its proximity to the coast, agricultural production in Odisha is vulnerable to climatic events including large scale natural disasters (e.g. cyclones in 1999 and 2013 or floods in 2008 and 2011) compounded by localised water logging or extreme heat and erratic monsoon precipitation. Communities in rural Odisha often remain trapped in poverty and become increasingly marginalised due to difficulties in coping and recovering from climatic shocks. There are clear interdependencies between the climate-resilience of agriculture, the capacity for socio-economic development and the security of development gains. Thus a need remains for climate-sensitive governance options for the agricultural sector to stimulate climate-resilient development.

Objectives and Methods

This research will identify what environmental, socio-economic and institutional factors, and the interaction of these factors across multiple scales, build or erode the climate and disaster resilience of rice cropping and rice farmers in coastal Odisha. 

Specific Objectives include:

1. Assessing the role of formal institutions in building the resilience of agriculture to natural disasters and climatic shocks and stresses. 

A detailed understanding of the role and capacity of formal institutions in enabling rice cropping and farmers, to cope and adapt to climatic shocks and stresses is gained through a mixed-methods, multi-scalar research approach. A stakeholder workshop was held at the state level in June 2014 with participants from the Government of Odisha, the UN, NGOs and academia; government officials in the relevant sectors, at state and local levels, have been interviewed and a detailed analysis of policy documents have been undertaken. Rice farmers will be surveyed to glean their perceptions of the role of formal institutions in helping them cope and adapt. 

2. Identifying resilience building factors for rice cropping.

Factors which enable rice cropping to cope or recover quickly from natural disasters and climatic shocks and stresses and barriers or drivers of adaptation to enhance rice cropping resilience will be identified. These factors will be identified at the household level via a comprehensive household survey documenting rice farmers' responses to floods in 2008, cyclone Phailin in 2013 and their overall sense of vulnerability to climatic events. The analysis will also be undertaken at the landscape level using remote sensing derived time-series of rice crop production to monitor spatial patterns in the impact of climatic shocks determined by larger-scale patterns in land-use/land-cover (e.g. mangrove buffers), remoteness and socio-economic characteristics (e.g. census data).  

These two research objectives will deliver:

1. an enhanced understanding of the resilience in the context of rice cropping as a livelihood strategy when exposed to frequent climatic shocks and stresses.

2. through a detailed understanding of the formal institutional setting and capacity context specific, and empirically based, policy options will be identified which will build the resilience of rice farmers.  

Summary of outputs from PREFUS stakeholder workshop

PREFUS case study in IUCN publication Safe Havens

PREFUS research contributed case study to IUCN publication (Safe Havens) demonstrating the disaster risk reduction benefits of Protected Areas. Remote sensing was used to show how the Bhitarkanika Mangrove Forests offered protection to rice fields, crucial to supporting the livelihoods of the local population, from tropical cyclones. The following is a link to the publication: This case study was also included in a handbook, prepared by the IUCN, for disaster risk reduction and Protected Areas managers released at the Sendai World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (