Traditional crops and climate change adaptation: insights from the Andean agricultural sector

Peer Reviewed
15 January 2023

Esteban Arias Montevechio, Marianella Crispin Cunya, Francisco Fernández Jorquera, Eric Rendon, Felipe Vásquez-Lavin, Alejandra Stehr, Roberto D. Ponce Oliva

The growth of traditional crops could be a primary resource for adapting to climate change and strengthening agrosystems’ resilience. However, these crops tend to be replaced by non-traditional crops with higher productivity, higher market values, and higher short-term income. In this context, smallholders face trade-offs between maximizing short-term income and ensuring resilience to face likely future climate adversities. The economic assessment of such trade-offs has been commonly neglected in the literature. Most studies are conducted using agronomic or anthropological frameworks to recognize the value of traditional agriculture to increase adaptive capacity and reduce vulnerability. This study fills this gap by assessing economic and agronomic trade-offs between traditional and non-traditional crops triggered by climate-induced changes in water availability. We also simulate the effectiveness of a water policy. Our results suggest that farmers growing traditional crops may get lower profits, but their portfolio is more resilient to climate change, whereas the water policy proves to be an effective adaptation strategy to climate change. However, the policy implementation could hinder the development of traditional crops. Based on our results, we suggest implementing smart agricultural policies to balance economic, cultural, and adaptation goals.

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Publication reference
Arias Montevechio, E., Crispin Cunya, M., Fernández Jorquera, F., Rendon, E., Vásquez-Lavin, F., Stehr, A., & Ponce Oliva, R. D. (2023). Traditional crops and climate change adaptation: insights from the Andean agricultural sector. Climate and Development, 1–15.
Publication | 24 January 2023