Perceptions of Extreme Weather Events and Adaptation Decisions : A Case Study of Maize and Bean Farmers in Guatemala and Honduras

Saborio-Rodríguez, Milagro; Alpizar Rodriguez, Francisco; Aguilar-Solano, L.; Martinez-Rodríguez, M.R.; Vignola, R.; Viguera, Barbara; Harvey, C.A.


Although there is growing recognition that extreme weather events pose significant challenges to Central American agriculture, little is known about what factors influence farmers’ implementation of adaptation practices. Such information is critical for the formulation of climate change policies. To fill this knowledge gap, we surveyed 446 maize and bean farmers in Guatemala and Honduras in order to (1) describe their perceptions toward exposure and sensitivity to droughts, hurricanes, floods, and torrential rains; (2) identify factors related to the use of adaptation measures following these events; and (3) describe the perceived effectiveness of the adaptations in reducing farmers’ vulnerability to extreme weather events. Only 19.3% of farmers had implemented adaptation measures in response to extreme weather events and, of these, 22% perceived that the adaptations were not effective at reducing their vulnerability. Factors that were positively related to the implementation of adaptation measures included perceptions of repeated exposure and increased frequency of extreme weather events, land ownership, access to training, aid received, and additional incomes (e.g., coffee production). Farmers need site-specific knowledge about which agricultural practices are effective at reducing their vulnerability to extreme weather events, as well as access to training, technical support, and aid after such events happen.