Farmers’ perception of climate change in mediterranean Chile
Meteorologists predict that climate change will have an increasing impact on ecosystems and agricultural production; however, many farmers do not have a clear perception of climate change or how it may affect their crop yields and overall farming operation in the near future. This study examines climate change perceptions in four rural municipalities in Central Chile, and the effect that exposure to meteorological information has on such perceptions, using a survey conducted in 2011. It uses a probit model to identify the socioeconomic and productive factors associated with what we define as a “clear perception” of climate change. Most farmers in this survey recognize that there have been changes in temperature and precipitation patterns during the last 24 years: About 62 % perceive that the average temperatures have increased; 93 % that precipitation has decreased; and 87 % that droughts are more frequent. The econometric model shows the significance of education and access to meteorological information for climate change perception. The results reveal that younger, more educated producers and those who own their land tend to have a clearer perception of climate change than older, less educated, or tenant farmers. From a policy point of view, it is important to give all farmers information that will help them to adapt to climate change using appropriate farming technologies and practices. Projects and programs designed to enhance understanding of the consequences of climate change will help farmers to develop the management ability to cope with climate risk.