As a PhD student in Agricultural and Consumer Economics advised by Dr. Kathy Baylis, Patrese Anderson is working with a multidisciplinary research team to understand climate change’s effects on smallholder farmers dependent on rain fed agricultural systems.
During the summer of 2017, she used funds provided by the ACES International Graduate Grants program to travel to Zambia to oversee the data collection of 1200 household surveys to be used by this research team to help Zambia ensure livelihoods and attain food security.
“While Zambia is a relatively large country, with a population of approximately 15 million of which 85% is directly involved in agricultural production, the country only has seven meteorological stations. This is highly problematic; throughout the planting and harvesting periods farmers make numerous decisions in response to current climate conditions and these conditions affect both their household food security and livelihoods. Without reliable real-time weather data, many farming, planting, and harvesting decisions are made sub-optimally. These decisions simultaneously affect household labor allocation decisions which further affect household food security and livelihood,” explains Anderson.
Her research focuses on these decisions are affected by climate variability-both the real changes and the perceptions in variability. She wants to understand how households allocate labor in response to production shocks caused by pest infestations, rainfall and/or temperature variability, and how these labor allocation decisions directly affect household food security.
She is using the data collected from Zambia to create statistical models that predict the determinates pushing farming households to allocate labor to off-farm labor markets which involve both formal, informal, and migratory labor. From these models, she will look at how these decisions directly effect on-farm agricultural productivity and household food security.
Anderson's time in Zambia gave her great perspective into her research.
“I spent days within small villages throughout the country seeing the impacts of pest infestation and late arrivals of subsidy packages, and speaking with local villagers. Through enumerators, who spoke the local languages, I heard first-hand accounts of numerous household coping strategies, that included labor allocation decisions, utilized in response to lower than expected yields. While the data collected provided our research team with masses of information on household demographics, food consumption and expenditure, seed variety, yields, and household labor decisions, the first-hand accounts gave context to the numbers and statistics presented within the data resulting in a more comprehensive picture of climate change’s effects on smallholder household resilience.”