Behavior Change for Agriculture
A behavior-centered design approach to motivating farmers’ actions for climate and livelihoods
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Our food system includes farmers, consumers, agro-industries, distribution networks, and supply chains spanning the globe. Agriculture is a unique sector, possessing a duality where it both affects and is affected by climate change. Clearing forest for cultivation and livestock grazing contributes up to 30% of global climate emissions. Simultaneously, farmers rely on soil, groundwater, and other ecosystem services that are vulnerable to our changing climate.
Farmers’ responses to the unpredictability of seasons and off-balance crop cycles - increasing chemical inputs, water usage - temporarily improve productivity, but carry long-term costs of depleted groundwater, new pests, and reduced agrobiodiversity.
The world is currently being fed by more than 570 million farms worldwide. Most of them are small, operating on less than two hectares, and family-run. Smallholders supply the majority of food in developing countries, including to some of the world’s megacities. A mainstay of employment and subsistence to women in rural spaces, smallholder farmers hold the key to climate resilience and food security for generations.
So what is preventing farmers from shifting their behaviors? External barriers (lack of financial support, exploitative value chains, inadequate extension services) and internal barriers (cognitive biases, informational gaps, inability to integrate technical knowhow) both play a part.