Pathways of Climate Change Impact on Agroforestry, Food Consumption Pattern, and Dietary Diversity Among Indigenous Subsistence Farmers of Sauria Paharia Tribal Community of India: A Mixed Methods Study

Suparna Ghosh-Jerath, Ridhima Kapoor, Upasona Ghosh, Archna Singh, Shauna Downs, Jessica Fanzo

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5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Climate change poses severe threats to the social, cultural, and economic integrity of indigenous smallholder subsistence farmers, who are intricately linked with their natural ecosystems. Sauria Paharia, a vulnerable indigenous community of Jharkhand, India, are smallholder farmers facing food and nutrition insecurity and have limited resources to cope with climate change. Eighteen villages of Godda district of Jharkhand inhabited by Sauria Paharia community were randomly selected to conduct a mixed methods study. In 11 out of 18 study villages, we conducted focus group discussions (FGDs) to examine the perception of this indigenous community regarding climate change and its impact on agroforestry and dietary diversity. In all 18 villages, household and agricultural surveys were conducted to derive quantitative estimates of household food consumption patterns and agroforestry diversity, which were triangulated with the qualitative data collected through the FGDs. The FGD data revealed that the community attributed local climatic variability in the form of low and erratic rainfall with long dry spells, to reduced crop productivity, diversity and food availability from forests and waterbodies. Declining agroforestry-produce and diversity were reported to cause reduced household income and shifts from subsistence agricultural economy to migratory unskilled wage laboring leading to household food insecurity. These perceptions were supported by quantitative estimates of habitual food consumption patterns which revealed a predominance of cereals over other food items and low agroforestry diversity (Food Accessed Diversity Index of 0.21 ± 0.15). The adaptation strategies to cope with climate variability included use of climate-resilient indigenous crop varieties for farming, seed conservation and access to indigenous forest foods and weeds for consumption during adverse situations and lean periods. There were mixed views on cultivation of hybrid crops as an adaptation strategy which could impact the sustained utilization of indigenous food systems. Promoting sustainable adaptation strategies, with adequate knowledge and technology, have the potential to improve farm resilience, income, household food security and dietary diversity in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number667297
JournalFrontiers in Sustainable Food Systems
Volume5
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 17 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Food Science
  • Ecology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Horticulture

Keywords

  • agroforestry
  • climate change
  • food consumption patterns
  • indigenous food systems
  • smallholder farmers
  • subsistence farmers
  • tribal community

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