6, February, 2012

Brazil’s Public Policy Package for Successful Farmer Adaptation

Brazil’s policy package – using market mechanisms and no-regrets policies that address the diversity of farmers’ needs – offers an interesting policy model for addressing climate change adaptation in semi-arid regions.

Farmers in Latin America’s semi-arid regions often suffer from badly designed, underfunded or discontinuous policies which limit their livelihood options and make them more vulnerable in the context of climate change.  Brazil’s policy package offers an interesting approach for helping farmers in semi-arid regions adapt to climate variability.  In particular, it offers a cohesive mix of individual policies that together address the variety of farmers’ needs, integrating rural development concerns with future adaptation requisites.  No-regrets policies focus on market incentives and integration, helping farmers become more self-reliant, while also reducing the need for government expenditure, and is thus of particular interest where budgets are tight.  This Brief describes the individual policies making up Brazil’s policy approach along with their common features, and offers lessons learned that may be useful for policymakers in other countries.

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Key Lessons:

  • Adaptation in semi-arid regions requires an integrated strategy that looks beyond water issues
  • The understanding of 'adaptation' should be expanded to include good sustainable rural development
  • 'No-regrets' policies have costs and are not automatically efficient, effective or equitable
  • Market incentives can make farmers more self-reliant, while reducing pressure on government budgets
  • A variety of policies are necessary because there is not one semi-arid region nor one typical family farmer − farmers have diverse and intersecting needs

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