Climate change and climate variability impacts on rainfed agricultural activities and possible adaptation measures. A Mexican case study

CECILIA CONDE ÁLVAREZ, R. FERRER, S. OROZCO

Abstract

Climate extreme events (such as those associated to strong El Niño events) highly affect Mexican agriculture, since more than sixty percent of it is rainfed. The basic crop cultivated is maize, which is still the main source of nutrients for a large portion of the rural population in the country. Within the project Capacity Building for Stage II Adaptation to Climate Change in Central America, México and Cuba, we analyze the strategies developed by maize producers in the central region of the country to cope with climatic adverse events. Impact on rainfed maize due to climate variability and climate change conditions are studied using a crop simulation model. Several adaptation measures can be evaluated using that model. However, the effect of other stressors must be considered in an assessment of the adaptive capacity of small farmers to climate variability and change. Key stakeholders’ involvement in the region helped us to decide which of the adaptive measures could be viable under the current conditions and under future climatic conditions. The construction of greenhouses, the use of compost, and dripping irrigation, were some of the techniques selected with the
participation of the stakeholders. The enthusiastic responses to these measures allow us to consider that they can prevail in the future, under climate change conditions. However, the adaptation to climate change includes –besides the stated techniques– the generation of the capacities to cope with climatic adverse events, that is, to enhance the adaptive capacities to climate change among the key stakeholders.

Keywords

Climate variability and change; rainfed agriculture; vulnerability and adaptation

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