Climate change a major challenge for farmers in eight countries: survey
Including India, many farmers across eight countries have been surveyed and reported some weather changes in recent years. Eight out of ten farmers who have been affected by heat expect lower yields in the coming years.
These are some of the key findings from the life science company Bayer’s ‘Farmer Voice’ survey. It had asked Kekst CNC (Kekst CNC is a global strategic communications firm) to conduct independent interviews with 800 farmers from Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, India, Kenya, Ukraine, and the United States.
While 76% of farmers were concerned about the future impact of climate change, 71% said climate change is already having a significant impact on their farming productivity.
Many farmers in these countries reported experiencing extremely high temperatures, prolonged periods of extreme heat, and droughts on their farms in recent years. Because of climate change, nearly 73% of farmers reported increased pest and disease pressure on their farms.
Climate impacts are estimated to have reduced farmer incomes by 15.7% on average over the last two years, according to the survey. One in every six farmers in these eight countries reported income losses of more than 25% during this time period.
In an address to a select virtual media round table, Rodrigo Santos, Member of the Board of Management of Bayer AG and President of the Crop Science Division, stated: “Farmers are already experiencing the adverse effects of climate change on their fields while also playing a key role in addressing this massive challenge.” This is why it is critical to prioritize their voices. The losses reported in this survey highlight the direct threat that climate change poses to global food security. In the face of a growing global population, the outcomes must serve as a catalyst for efforts to make agriculture more sustainable.”
Steps for mitigation
According to the ‘Farmer Voice’ survey, farmers are taking steps to mitigate climate change and value innovation.
More than 80% of farmers surveyed are already taking or planning to take steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The top three focus areas are: using cover crops (43%), renewable energy or biofuels (37%), and innovative seeds to reduce fertilizer or crop protection use (33%).
Over half (54%) of farmers say they already use insecticides or plan to do so within the next three years. Access to seeds and traits designed to better cope with extreme weather would benefit nearly 53% of farmers the most, while 50% advocated for improved crop protection technology. Almost 42% said improved access to irrigation technology would benefit their farm.
Based on their practices, the most important paths to success were improved land use efficiency, crop diversification, and improved soil health.
Over the next three years, farmers in these countries will prioritize economic challenges. Over half (55%) of farmers ranked fertilizer costs as one of the top three challenges, followed by energy costs (47%), price and income volatility (37%), and crop protection costs (36%). Fertilizer costs are especially important in Kenya, India, and Ukraine.
Rodrigo Santos stated that farmers face multiple and related challenges, but “despite this, we found that they are hopeful – nearly three-quarters say they feel positive about the future of farming in their country.”