Adaptation of Agriculture to Climatic Variability and Change: A Process of Social Networks and Diffusion of Innovations

PhD Thesis Defense by Oumarou Daouda


Note: The video was taken by Cherine Akkari, and the photo by Nathalie Deslitets

Caribbean Policymakers Get Climate Adaptation Tool

An adaptation plan to deal with the detrimental effects of climate change can be seen as a planning tool to be used to examine the issue of climate change in context and in all fields of activities of a municipal government, to identify and prioritize the key risks, and to adopt a vision as well as to provide steps for implementing short, medium and long-term adaptation measures to changing climatic conditions. 

A decision-support website has been launched to help policymakers in the Caribbean build resilience to the risks that climate change poses to activities such as tourism and agriculture.

The Caribbean Climate Online Risk and Adaptation TooL (CCORAL), unveiled last month (12 July) in Saint Lucía, allows users to identify whether their activity is likely to be influenced by climate change and how to deal with this.

It helps project managers to understand climate influence on decisions, and to choose and apply risk management processes.

“The site is not set up to tell a manager what decision they should make, but rather to help them understand the factors involved and to explore and weigh options.”

Climate adaptation as mitigation: the case of agricultural investments

David B Lobell1, Uris Lantz C Baldos2 and Thomas W Hertel2

David B Lobell et al 2013 Environ. Res. Lett. 8 015012
© 2013 IOP Publishing Ltd
Received 28 August 2012, accepted for publication 10 December 2012
Published 12 February 2013


Successful adaptation of agriculture to ongoing climate changes would help to maintain productivity growth and thereby reduce pressure to bring new lands into agriculture. In this paper we investigate the potential co-benefits of adaptation in terms of the avoided emissions from land use change. A model of global agricultural trade and land use, called SIMPLE, is utilized to link adaptation investments, yield growth rates, land conversion rates, and land use emissions. A scenario of global adaptation to offset negative yield impacts of temperature and precipitation changes to 2050, which requires a cumulative 225 billion USD of additional investment, results in 61 Mha less conversion of cropland and 15 Gt carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) fewer emissions by 2050. Thus our estimates imply an annual mitigation co-benefit of 0.35 GtCO2e yr−1 while spending $15 per tonne CO2e of avoided emissions. Uncertainty analysis is used to estimate a 5–95% confidence interval around these numbers of 0.25–0.43 Gt and $11–$22 per tonne CO2e. A scenario of adaptation focused only on Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, while less costly in aggregate, results in much smaller mitigation potentials and higher per tonne costs. These results indicate that although investing in the least developed areas may be most desirable for the main objectives of adaptation, it has little net effect on mitigation because production gains are offset by greater rates of land clearing in the benefited regions, which are relatively low yielding and land abundant. Adaptation investments in high yielding, land scarce regions such as Asia and North America are more effective for mitigation.

To identify data needs, we conduct a sensitivity analysis using the Morris method (Morris 1991 Technometrics 33 161–74). The three most critical parameters for improving estimates of mitigation potential are (in descending order) the emissions factors for converting land to agriculture, the price elasticity of land supply with respect to land rents, and the elasticity of substitution between land and non-land inputs. For assessing the mitigation costs, the elasticity of productivity with respect to investments in research and development is also very important. Overall, this study finds that broad-based efforts to adapt agriculture to climate change have mitigation co-benefits that, even when forced to shoulder the entire expense of adaptation, are inexpensive relative to many activities whose main purpose is mitigation. These results therefore challenge the current approach of most climate financing portfolios, which support adaptation from funds completely separate from—and often much smaller than—mitigation ones.

Full Text PDF (1.15 MB)

Vulnerability of Farms and Adaptation to Climate Change in Quebec: Risk Management and Adaptation to Climate Variability

During the course of their lifespan, humans were used to harvest what they cultivate by their own hands. However, this reality has changed with the development of technology especially with the beginning of the industrial revolution that began in the 18th century. The industrial revolution has encouraged the over-use of fossil fuels, which is a high-carbon economy, such as coal and natural gas. People began to dominate nature. They cut trees, they destroyed forests, and they overexploited almost any useful resource to an extent that their actions have exceeded the world’s carrying capacity. In 2007, the area that is available to produce renewable resources and absorb CO2, which is called “Footprint”, has exceeded the earth’s biocapacity by 50% (Alcamo, 2010). This is true because the methods that people have adopted are unsustainable. In fact and according to the American Institute of Physics, it is predicted that by 2050, the demand of the world for energy will double due to population growth and to the industrialization of developing countries (Crabtree, 2004). During the 20th century, global temperatures rose by approximately 0.60 C and climate models estimate that this figure is set to rise to 20 C by 2100 (Houghton et al., 1996). According to a report published on 18 November by the World Bank, the average temperature of the planet may rise by 4 degrees Celsius by the end of the century (Torre, 2012). This global warming has been attributed in part to human activity, and in particular to the burning of fossil fuels that release carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. CO2, methane (CH4), chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), tropospheric (low-level) ozone (O3), and water vapour (H2O), are among the important gases that are able, in the atmosphere, to absorb heat radiated by the earth, whilst allowing the sun’s energy to pass through unobstructed (Haslett, 2008). As a result, the gases allow the atmosphere to act like a greenhouse, and are responsible for producing the earth’s average temperature of 150 C (Haslett, 2008). This has given rise to the phenomenon that is referred to as the Greenhouse Effect, and without this natural phenomenon, the earth’s average temperature would be in the region of -170 C (Haslett, 2008). Concern is focused on the increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere from human activity, which is causing an increase in the Greenhouse Effect, resulting in global warming. It must be noted that global warming may not be only due to anthropogenic effects and that natural phenomena may be contributing, such as variations in solar radiation output (Haslett, 2008).

There has now been well over a decade of research into the adaptation of human activities to climate change and variability in several countries, including Canada (e.g. Brklacich et al., 1997; Bryant et al., 1997; Bryant et al., 2000). In the early 1990s, apart from a certain level of skepticism, much of the work on the impacts of climate change on agriculture centred on climate change modelling. At that point in time – the early 1990s – farmers’ perceptions certainly revealed the potential of farmer adaptation to climate change and variability (Bryant et al., 2007; Bryant et al., 2005). Comparison of future yields under different climate scenarios with current yields was thus explored, giving ‘impacts’ in terms of changes in yields (Bryant et al., 2000). The yields for different crop types could then be compared and implications for agricultural land use change were derived directly from these model outputs, and this was undertaken in Quebec as elsewhere in North America (Singh and Stewart, 1991; Rosenberg et al., 1992; Mearns et al., 1992; Semenov et al., 1995). However, climate change and variability were certainly not a major preoccupation for farmers (Bryant et al., 2007; Bryant et al., 2005). At the same time, research during the 1990s stressed the need to recognize the inherent spatial variability of conditions under which agriculture has developed, and therefore to validate adaptation indicators more extensively and analyze regional differentiation of agro-climatic conditions in relation to vulnerability and adaptive capacity. In addition, the need to incorporate “the human factor” in climate change adaptation research resulted in a comparable change in orientation that included human agency with the biophysical impact-based approaches (Singh et al., 1996, 1998; André et al., 1996). From there, the issue of the adaptation of agriculture to climate change and variability (Bryant et al., 1997) was highlighted, followed by effort directed at understanding the capacity for adaptation of different farmers and farming systems (e.g. Bryant and André, 2003). As a result, questions have thus increasingly been posed concerning how human agency is or can adjust to these changing conditions. Research into the adaptation question for agricultural activities has been underway in Canada now by several small research teams for the last 16 years (Brklacich et al., 1997; Bryant et al., 2000).

The following paper will briefly discuss the research program dealing with adaptation of agriculture to climate change and variability at the universities of Montreal and McGill since the fall, 2004. The program is an extension of a longer research thrust into farm adaptation (and the adaptation of other human activities) that has been carried out at the Université de Montréal since the early 1990s. The partners of this particular research program are Ouranos, a climate change consortium in Montreal, the Agricultural Financing Agency for Quebec, the Ministry of Agriculture (Quebec), the Farmers Union of Quebec, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. The Ministry of Natural Resources Canada and Ouranos financed this program.

The project focuses on risk management strategies by Quebec farmers, combining historical analyses of significant climatic events, selected crop production enterprises and insurance claims (yield effects) with analyses of farm-level strategies in terms of farm productivity and profitability (e.g. crop combinations and diversification strategies, on-farm resources ((soils, water) management strategies, sales strategies)) following these events. Also, the project builds on the understanding from the past experiences of farmers in Quebec in adapting to and coping with extreme events of adapting versus not adapting to changing climatic conditions. The research focused on three agricultural regions in Quebec, Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean (SLSJ) region, Centre-du-Québec and the South-West Quebec (Montreal).                                                                                                             The methodology is mainly based on a general conceptual framework which takes into consideration the bio-physical environment (e.g. climate and soil conditions) and the adaptation to climate change and variability as part of farmers’ risk management strategies. One should note here that the farmers’ risk management strategies are made ‘in context’, for example, in the context of other actors’ decisions which modify farmers’ perceptions either by providing farmers with additional information (e.g. the ‘good practices’ guides of La Financière, information provided by the MAPAQ and the UPA) or which determine certain parameters in the farmers’ decision-making environment (e.g. definition of crop insurance program regions, participation costs in insurance programs and other decisions that affect farmers’ assessments of costs and benefits). In addition, assessing how farmers perceive and address one particular source of stress, i.e. climate change and variability, must be seen in the context of the broader economic and political context (e.g. interest rates, exchange rates that affect costs of exports and imports and environmental regulation) as well as more regionally-based factors and processes, such as urban sprawl around major urban areas. As a first step, the Advisory or Steering Committee from the partners and stakeholders (Ouranos, MAPAQ, La Financière, UPA, Agriculture Canada) was set up. Second, a temporal analysis of climatic and crop loss information (using yields variability by production type and region relating to drought conditions, and other extreme climatic events (from La Financière)), as well as the regular reports of the Financière on crop growing conditions, was undertaken for the whole of Quebec. Third, the three target regions were identified. For the specific regions retained, an intra-regional analysis of climate-related claims relating to drought conditions (and other extreme climatic events)/losses/yields, was made in order to identify any concentrations (‘hot spots’). Organizing and facilitating focus groups with professionals in the regions retained, as well as farmers in the target regions, were done. Then, an analysis of farm models with and without adaptation was made. After that, the vulnerability at farm, sector and region levels, was assessed.

Since the three regions are very different from each others in many aspects (i.e. topography, municipal conditions, agricultural regions – in terms of climate conditions, soil conditions, crop composition and farm structure), the results of the project should be expected to be different in each region. Also, regarding the management of risk, farms should not necessarily be the same in each region.  The results of the research were divided into three main parts, which are: the level of preoccupation regarding excess rain, drought and freezing conditions, practices that had been modified or that were suggested following past events (excess precipitation, drought conditions and frost), and the most appropriate practices to modify in the future. With respect to the Level of preoccupation regarding excess rain, drought and freezing conditions, excess rainfall represented the primary preoccupation for farmers from the SW Quebec (Montreal) region, while for the Lac-St-Jean farmers it was lack of snow, and for Centre-du-Quebec farmers, the occurrence of low temperatures during the summer. For the professionals from the Centre-du-Québec, the preoccupations were mainly those relating to excess precipitation in the spring, summer drought and insects. For those from the SW Quebec (Montreal) region, the preoccupations were mainly centred on excess rainfall (fall and spring), frosts, insects, diseases, excess heat and drought. In the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region, it was mainly lack of snow, as well as frosts, insects, diseases, excess heat and drought that were the main preoccupations. The perceptions of farmers and professionals from the same region were compared. For example, in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean the professional group was not as preoccupied with strong winds, excess heat and temperatures as were the farmers. The presence of blueberry producers in the focus group certainly explains some of this difference.

Furthermore, talking about the level of preoccupation regarding excess rain, drought and freezing conditions, some slight differences were observed between farmers and professionals in their perception of climatic events. Farmers from the Centre-du-Québec were relatively less inclined to advocate a change in crops (solutions that were proposed by the professionals) and, instead, opted more to change the type of seed used (i.e. the cultivars). On the other hand, the solutions and perceptions of farmers and professionals converged in terms of the importance given to changing the timing of farmers’ work operations, the method of working the land, drainage and of modifying techniques of soil drainage. Generally, farmers had modified different practices in their fields following problems associated with drought (timing, seeding density and choice of seed type). The professionals from the three regions were more inclined to suggest changes in the methods of working the soil. Irrigation was suggested by a minority of participants. And in relation to past problems with frost, most of the professionals suggested modifying the timing of different practices as well as changing crop type in the three regions. Most of the farmers also noted a change in the timing of different work operations as well as the technique of working the soil following freezing conditions. In the Centre-du-Québec and the Lac-Saint-Jean region, crop protection as well as the modification of wind breaks had also been undertaken. In the Lac-Saint-Jean region, the participants noted they had changed seeds and crops in relatively similar proportions (roughly 50 %).           Furthermore, concerning the most appropriate practices to modify in the future, participants were asked whether climate change was important in their region and to assign a value to the different strategies or practices to follow in the future. Generally, the highest values were obtained from the farmers in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region. These emphasized the importance of diversification, of abandoning certain types of crops considered to be vulnerable, and as well of changing crops in order to profit from any rise in temperatures. Farmers in the Lac-Saint-Jean and SW Quebec (Montreal) regions thought it was more important to obtain government assistance but also that it was important to modify agricultural tools and seeds.  Diversification of activities was considered in all three regions. Among agricultural professionals, diversification of activities was of interest in all three regions, as well as modifying ways of working the soil and also soil drainage. Those from the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region assigned much more importance to abandoning vulnerable crops and to changing crops in order to benefit from climate warming and government aid. Professionals from the SW Quebec (Montreal) region appear to want to have farming profit from methanol and ethanol production. Those from the Centre-du-Québec expressed the desire to adjust irrigation techniques to the imperatives of climate change as much as drainage techniques.

To conclude, agriculture is a sector that is naturally sensitive to climate and among the most likely to be affected by changing climatic conditions in the future. However, agriculture under certain conditions has the capacity to deal with and adapt to various challenges. As a result, modern farm managers are now trying to incorporate climatic uncertainty in their decision-making procedures with the objective of minimizing the adverse effects of changing climatic conditions or taking advantage of them on their farm by adopting wise practices and strategies.

Some suggestions of farmers and professionals were made to reduce the risks associated with climate change and variability. In the SLSJ region, crop diversification; development of windbreaks (e.g. snow cover); experiment with new practices; better water management; better advice to the producers; and change crop insurance; were recommended. To the South-West Montreal, the insurance should give credit for various techniques. The yield insurance punished only good farmers and supports poor ones who are not able or do not work to improve their production. In the centre of Quebec, there is a need for retention ponds and buffer zones to the field line instead of draining the ditch water directly to the river. It is evident that there are significant spatial variations both at the interregional and intra regional patterns due to climatic extremes. The variation spatially appears to be as significant as the substantial variation in temporal patterns. It is important to note that vulnerability also encompasses the broader system characteristics, at the community or territorial level, at the region, provincial, federal and broader international levels and recognizing such effects related to multiple sources of stress affecting the farm decision taker. The recognition of the reality of multiple sources of stress affecting the farmers’ decision-making environment also provides us with a clue regarding why farmers perceive climate change and variability with different degrees of ‘urgency’. As a result, agricultural risks are linked to one another. Adopting a holistic approach to risk management is important (Rispoli, 2011). Furthermore, there are significant differences between farmers in their level of awareness and adaptive capacity to deal with climate change and variability. Moreover, a number of results suggest important pointers for public policy and intervention in the field of agricultural adaptation to climate change and variability. Here, the key thread is that of variability and how this presents both a challenge and a set of opportunities for public intervention. While broad policies can be constructed to facilitate adaptation, the significant challenge is that it is at the level of the farmers in their communities that final decisions have to be taken. Public policy and intervention must be able to address the significant patterns of variability that were revealed by the research. Not only do climate conditions vary significantly between regions, they also vary significantly within broad regions (more so in some regions than in others). It is evident from the focus group meetings, that there is also significant variation between farmers in their awareness and ability to adapt, and to recognize the benefits of adapting through integrating appropriate strategies into their farm operations. Thus, on the one hand there are significant challenges in the public sector, perhaps in conjunction with other institutions and organizations such as the UPA and the Clubs Conseils, to undertake significant roles in counselling as advisors to farmers, as information providers and as educators. In addition, it is clear that some farming communities are more aware than others, and therefore perhaps already better able to adapt to the changing environment. Part of this comes from the network of social relationships that is stronger in some regions than in others. Since some of the adaptation strategies that might be considered involve groups of farmers working together (e.g. some drainage schemes), then these advising, information and education roles may also need to be oriented towards building the social capital that underlies such collective adaptation projects. One of the challenges in this is that adaptation may be partly a cultural phenomenon. Other research by the Université de Montréal research team had earlier emphasized that adaptive capacity was strongly related to farmers’ ability to be self-critical and question their current ways of managing and planning their farm operations. And in order to enable the potential of policies and programs to be used effectively to enhance the adaptive capacity of farmers, the issue of adaptation to climate change needs to be addressed more explicitly in the implementation of these policies and programs. Of course, this is more easily said than done.


Houghton, J.T., Meira Filho, L.G., Callander, B.A., Harris, N., Kattenberg, A. and Maskell, K. (Eds.).  1996.  Climate Change 1995: The Science of Climate Change.  Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

Alcamo, (2010). “The Living Planet Report”. WWF. Retrieved from–WWF-2010-Living-Planet-report

Haslett, S. (29 Septembre, 2008). Coastal Systems. Introduction to Environment Series. Routledge.  ISBN 0415440610, 9780415440615

Crabtree et. al (2004, December). “The Hydrogen Economy”. Physicstoday. Retrieved from

Torre, M. (19 November, 2012). La Banque mondiale s’alarme d’une hausse des températures de 4 degrés. World Bank. Retrieved from

Rispoli, F. (27 May, 2011). Risk management for smallholders farmers: Weather index-based insurance. Committee on World Food Security. IFAD. Retrieved from

Brklacich, (July, 1997). Implications of Global Climatic Change for Canadian Agriculture: A Review and Appraisal of Research 1984 to 1997: Volume 1: Synthesis and Research Needs, 42 pp.; Volume 2: Research and Report Summaries, 114 pp. Ottawa: Report submitted to the Environmental Adaptation Research Group, Atmospheric Environment Service, Environment Canada, July 1997.

Bryant, C.R. and André, P., (2003). Adaptation and sustainable development of the rural community, pp. 449-460 in Laurens, L. and Bryant, C.R. (eds.). Montréal and Montpellier: IGU Commission on the Sustainability of Rural Systems and the Université Paul Valéry, 2003.

Bryant, (2000). Adaptation in Canadian agriculture to climatic variability and change. Climatic Change, 45: 181-201.

Bryant, (2005). Climate Variability and Quebec: Lessons for Farm Adaptation from an Analysis of the Temporal and Spatial Patterns of Crop Insurance Claims in Quebec. National Conference on Adapting to Climate Change in Canada 2005: Understanding Risks and Building Capacity, Natural Resources Canada, Montréal. May 4th to 7th 2005.

Bryant, (29 March, 2007). Farm-level Vulnerabilities and Adaptations to Climate Change in Quebec: Lessons from Farmer Risk Management and Adaptations to Climatic Variability. Submitted to Natural Resources Canada. Contact number: A931.

Singh, B., and Stewart, R.B.: 1991. Potential Impacts of CO2- Induced Climate Change Using the GISS Scenario on Agriculture in Quebec, Canada’, Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 35, 327-347.

Singh, (1996). Influence d’un changement climatique dû à une hausse de gaz a effet de serre sur l’agriculture au Québec. Atmosphère-Océan 34(2). 379-399.

Rosenberg, N.J., (1992). Adaptation of Agriculture to Climate Change. Climatic Change, 21, 385-405.

Semenov, M.A. and J.R. Porter, 1995: Climatic variability and the modelling of crop yields. Agric. For. Meteorol., 73, 265-283.

Mearns, 1992: Effect of changes in interannual climatic variability on CERES-Wheat yields: sensitivity and 2×CO2 general circulation model studies. Agric. For. Meteorol., 62, 159-189.

Singh, (1998). Impacts of a GHG-Induced Climate Change on Crop Yields: Effects of Accelration in Maturation, Moisture Stress and Optimal Temperature. Climatic Change 38, 51-86.

Andre, (4 September, 1996). Passive Response of Saccharomyces cerevisiae to Osmotic Shifts: Cell Volume Variations Depending on the Physiological State. BIOCHEMICAL AND BIOPHYSICAL RESEARCH COMMUNICATIONS 227, 519–523. ARTICLE NO. 1539. Retrieved from

Adaptation, Agriculture and Climate Change in Brief

Climate change poses a serious challenge to social and economic development in all countries. Obviously, while it is prerequisite to “negotiate international commitments to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, it is also important to undertake policies and measures that facilitate adaptation to the observed and projected impacts of climate change” (OECD, 2008). In fact, “adaptation to climate change is now widely recognized as an equally important and complementary response to GHG mitigation in addressing climate change” (OECD, 2008).  Adaptation has received an increased attention from several governments and international negotiations (UNFCCC, 1992; Klein MacIver, 1999; Smit et al., 2000). There are several definitions of the word ‘adaptation’. According to the UK Climate Impacts Programme (UKCIP) 2003 report, adaptation is “the process or outcome of a process that leads to a reduction in harm or risk of harm associated with climate variability and climate change”. To other more accurate definitions, “adaptation refers to responses by individuals, groups and governments, to climatic stimuli or effects to reduce vulnerability of, or susceptibility to, adverse impacts or damage potential” (Carter et al., 1994; Watson et al., 1996; Pielke, 1998; Tol et al., 1998; UNEP, 1998; Wheaton and MacIver, 1999; Smit et al., 2000). Further, “adaptation can be directed to reduce potential negative consequences, or to benefit from opportunities associated with climate change” (Carter et al., 1994; Watson et al., 1996; Pielke, 1998; Tol et al., 1998; UNEP, 1998; Wheaton and MacIver, 1999; Smit et al., 2000).

One of the major urgent sectors in which adaptation measures should be taken very seriously is agriculture, since it is “inherently sensitive to climate conditions, and it is among the most frequently cited human systems likely to be affected by global climate change” (Rosenzweig and Parry, 1994; Smit et al., 1996). Also, agriculture is the major source of food on which human life is very dependant in order to maintain its own existence. Hence, food security is an important factor to defend especially in a world of changing climate and variability. By definition, food security “exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”(World Food Summit, 1996). Further, many impact studies have shown the vulnerability of the agricultural sector to climate change (Rosenzweig, 1992; Budyko and Menzhulin, 1996; Reilly and Schimmelpfenning, 1999; Bryant et al., 2000). However, agricultural systems also have, to varying degrees, a capacity to cope with and adapt to changing conditions (Reilly, 1995; Parry et al., 1998). Actually, agriculture is often considered to be especially adaptable compared with some sectors (Dolan et al., 2001). “Altering farming practices and crop varieties, building new water reservoirs, enhancing water use efficiency, changing building codes, investing in air conditioning, and constructing sea walls,” are examples of a wide variety of adaptation measures that can be implemented in response to both observed and anticipated climate change (OECD, 2008). And such measures are undertaken by public and private actors through policies, investment in infrastructure and technologies, behavioral change” (OECD, 2008). In general, adaptation measures belong to two categories which are hard measures (these involve physical structures such as dikes, seawalls, and reinforced buildings) and soft measures (e.g. changing practices and selecting and/or changing other crops and/or cultivars.crop insurance, foreign aid, early warning, and land-use planning (Hallegatte and Dumas, n.d)). Usually, soft measures must come before hard measures, however, since soft measures are harder to implement, adaptation costing studies have tended to focus more on hard adaptation measures; this has lead and leads to inappropriate and costly adaptation actions (OECD, 2008). Specifically in relation to agriculture, adaptation takes place at two main levels which are the farm level (e.g. crop and farm income insurance, diversification of production) and the public level (promotion of the adoption of new technologies and practices, institutional support to diffuse information on climate change and adaptation possibilities) (OECD, 2008). In addition, adaptation options can be characterized according to a broad variety of attributes such as timing (reactive – these are adaptation measures that occur after the impacts of climate change have been experienced (Dolan, 2001), and concurrent or anticipatory – these are adaptations which are undertaken before the impacts are fully felt; they are pro-active (Dolan, 2001) ), temporal scope (short versus long-term), spatial extent (localized or widespread), adapting agent (natural systems versus humans, individual versus collective, private versus public) and purposefulness (autonomous versus planned) (Carter et al., 1994; Smithers and Smit, 1997; Smit et al., 2000; OECD, 2008). On the other hand, from an economic point of view, evaluation could be evaluated in terms of whether, and by how much, the benefits of such actions exceed the costs incurred. For instance, estimates of adaption costs and benefits are applicable at two levels, which are regional/local level, and national and global level. At the small-scale level (or regional or local level), “the adaptation costs and benefits are relevant for actors directly exposed to particular climate risks who need to make decisions about whether, how much, and when to invest in adaptation” (OECD, 2008). Individuals and households, farmers, project managers, and sectoral planners, are examples of such actors. At the large-scale level (or national/global level), “cost estimates can be used to establish aggregate adaptation ‘price tags’ that would then need to be met through international, domestic, and private funding sources” (OECD, 2008). And like forestry and fisheries, the agricultural estimate (McCarl, 2007) consists of three distinct cost items: extra capital investment at the farm level, the need for better extension services at the country level and the cost of additional global research (e.g. on new cultivars).                 One should note that adaptation is a complex process; hence, the several challenges (e.g. analytical challenge) associated with estimating adaptation costs and benefits. Progress in adaptation measures remains limited in developing and developed countries (Agrawala and van Aalst, 2009; Gagnon-Lebrun and Agrawala, 2007). Adaptation costs may increase several-fold if measures to improve adaptive capacity are included in the purview of adaptation in addition to the measures taken directly to reduce climate damages (OECD, 2008). Also, since the specific effects of climate change are unpredictable, uncertainty will be an important factor associated with estimating adaptation costs and benefits, and the timing of the undertaken actions (OECD, 2008). Besides, not only is there little information on adaptation costs and residual damages (costs of damage not adapted to), but the adaptation itself is unclear (Frankhauser and Tol, 1997; Tol et al., 1998). Impact assessments often assume that private agents will autonomously adapt, and that such adaptations will have net benefits (Wheaton and MacIver, 1999). As a result, there is a necessity to be borne in mind while interpreting particular empirical estimates of adaptation costs and benefits (OECD, 2008), and this can be referred to as ‘planned adaptation’. Planned adaptations are generally anticipatory, but can also be reactive (e.g. adaptations are planned to be implemented once climate change effects are experienced) (Klein and Tol, 1997; MacIver and Dallmeier, 2000). While adaptations can be planned at the farm level, the term ‘planned adaptation’ is generally used to point to actions taken by governments as a conscious policy response (Klein and MacIver, 1999; Bryant et al., 2000). Such actions aim to ease farm-level adjustments or enhance the adaptive capacity of the agricultural system (Skinner et al., 2001). Encouragement of technological adaptations such as crop development (Smithers and Blay-Palmer, 2001) and early warning systems (Carlson, 1989), promotion of land and water use options (Chiotti and Johnston, 1995), assistance with changes in diversification or intensity of production (Brklacich et al., 2000), and changed financial support in established programs and ad hoc compensation (Skinner et al., 2001), are all examples of possible planned adaptations involving governments. However, since the evaluation methods of planned adaptation options (e.g. benefit cost analysis (BCE), and cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA)) are limited to the single criterion of economic efficiency, multiple criteria evaluation (MCE) (e.g. impact assessment) is more preferable, even if it comes with technical challenges, because it gives the importance of other economic, social, technical, environmental and political factors (Banuri et al., 1996; Kane and Yohe, 2000; Smit et al., 2001).

In conclusion, it should be kept in mind that an adaption option implemented at the national level, for the benefit of the public system, does not necessarily translate into an adaptation for the private individual, although it may influence adaptations at the private level. For example, crop development may involve incentives at the national scale, research and advisory services at the regional scale, and change in crops at the farm level. However, national scale initiatives may discourage associated adaptations at the farm level and encourage others. A government could adapt to the increased risks associated with extreme climate events by reducing the subsidy on crop insurance to farmers, in order to address concerns over the costs and sustainability of public support. While the national scale adaptation strategy reduces the vulnerability of the taxpayer to increased economic burden, it makes crop insurance a more costly option at the farm level; increasing producer vulnerability as an example (Dolan et al., 2001). Furthermore, the evaluation of adaptation measures to climate change, if intended to contribute to decision-making in the agri-food sector, must be included as part of the broader evaluation measures and practices in this sector. Moreover, mitigation involved adaptation. For instance, Gosling (2011) highlighted the importance of adaptation in the water sector (e.g. reduced flood risk and increased drought resilience) as a major recommendation to the post-AR4 studies (studies published after the 2007 Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)) on agriculture, which apply probabilistic assessment (e.g. emissions uncertainty, climate modelling uncertainty and crop modelling uncertainties) to provide a more comprehensive treatment of uncertainty.  Adaptation and mitigation are and should be the two basic policy responses to the risks and impacts climate change and variability. Climate change that is the focus of attention is the result primarily of human activities (created by people and encouraged in many ways by our governments). The solutions lie mostly in the domain of peoples too – their cultures, their values, and their governments (although the latter seem to follow behind much of the time rather than being ‘leaders’). The influence of policy on individual or private agent behavior is a fundamental function of public policy and a focus of adaptation in the policy arena (Dolan et al., 2001).