Item Details

Title: Farming System Evolution and Adaptive Capacity: Insights for Adaptation Support

Date Published: 2014
Author/s: Jami L. Dixon, Lindsay C. Stringer and Andrew J. Challinor
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Affiliation: Sustainability Research Institute, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds,
Leeds LS2 9JT, UK; E-Mail:
Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science, School of Earth and Environment,
University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK; E-Mail:
Keywords: farming systems; adaptive capacity; Uganda; adaptation; agriculture; resilience;
vulnerability; institutions; climate impacts; climate change


Studies of climate impacts on agriculture and adaptation often provide current or
future assessments, ignoring the historical contexts farming systems are situated within.
We investigate how historical trends have influenced farming system adaptive capacity in
Uganda using data from household surveys, semi-structured interviews, focus-group
discussions and observations. By comparing two farming systems, we note three major
findings: (1) similar trends in farming system evolution have had differential impacts on
the diversity of farming systems; (2) trends have contributed to the erosion of informal
social and cultural institutions and an increasing dependence on formal institutions;
and (3) trade-offs between components of adaptive capacity are made at the farm-scale,
thus influencing farming system adaptive capacity. To identify the actual impacts of future
climate change and variability, it is important to recognize the dynamic nature of