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Agricultural innovation and adaptation to climate change: empirical evidence from diverse agro-ecologies in South Asia

While impacts of climate change on agricultural systems have been widely researched, there is still limited understanding of what agricultural innovations have evolved over time in response to both climatic and non-climatic drivers. Although there has been some progress in formulating national adaptation policies and strategic planning in different countries of South Asia, research to identify local-level adaptive strategies and practices is still limited. Through eight case studies and a survey of 300 households in 15 locations in India, Nepal and Bangladesh, this paper generates empirical evidence on emerging agricultural innovations in contrasting socio-economic, geographical and agro-ecological contexts. The study demonstrates that several farm practices (innovations) have emerged in response to multiple drivers over time, with various forms of institutional and policy support, including incentives to reduce risks in the adoption of innovative practice. It further shows that there is still limited attempt to systematically mainstream adaptation innovations into local, regional and national government structures, policies and planning processes. The paper shows that the process of farm-level adaptation through innovation adoption forms an important avenue for agricultural adaptation in South Asia. A key implication of this finding is that there is a need for stronger collaborations between research institutions, extension systems, civil society and the private sector actors to enhance emerging adaptive innovations at the farm level.

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