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Assessing climatic and technological constraints to agricultural productivity in South Asia

Gorst, Ashley (2017) Assessing climatic and technological constraints to agricultural productivity in South Asia. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.k1dbjn7pivyu


This thesis comprises of four essays that seek to advance understanding of the role that climatic constraints have on agricultural productivity in India and Pakistan. This work emphasises that the constraints posed to agricultural production must be understood within the context of an evolving set of environmental and technological conditions. The thesis employs empirical methods to understand these relationships, where particular emphasis is placed on methods suitable for learning about the challenges agriculture will face in the future. The first chapter studies the impact of climate change on rice yields in India by modelling the inter-annual distribution of yield conditional on projected temperature increases. The results suggest a decrease in average yield and a substantial increase in the probability of low yields. It is also shown that yields have become increasingly resilient to heat over time. The second chapter studies the e↵ect of drought on cereal production in India by estimating thresholds of drought impact. By examining thresholds over time, evidence is found of decreasing average impacts, but with evidence of an abrupt increase in average drought impacts in more recent years. Thresholds of precipitation are also estimated, indicating substantial heterogeneity in resilience to drought across crop types and regions of India. The third chapter examines how changes in agricultural technology brought about by the Green Revolution a↵ected the relative importance of agro-climatic factors in determining crop yields. Using a detailed measure of crop suitability it is found that yields increased relatively more in areas of higher suitability, indicating complementarity between agricultural technologies and favourable agro-climatic characteristics. The final chapter uses farm-level data from a specifically-designed survey to assess the impact and determinants of climate change adaptation strategies on crop productivity in Pakistan. Adaptation has a beneficial e↵ect on rice yields, but not on wheat yields. This chapter also finds that a number of household and institutional factors are strongly related to whether households have adapted to climate change.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2017 Ashley Gorst
Library of Congress subject classification: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Sets: Departments > Geography and Environment
Supervisor: Groom, Ben

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