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Farmers’ Distress Index: An Approach for an Action Plan to Reduce Vulnerability in the Drylands of India


  • A. Amarender Reddy

    (ICAR-Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture (ICAR-CRIDA), Hyderabad 500059, India)

  • Anindita Bhattacharya

    (National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj (NIRD & PR), Hyderabad 500030, India)

  • S. Venku Reddy

    (Participatory Rural Development Society (PRDIS), Hyderabad 500048, India)

  • Sandra Ricart

    (Water and Territory Research Group, Interuniversity Institute of Geography, University of Alicante, 03690 San Vicente del Raspeig, Spain)


Farmer distress is a widely recognized problem in India induced by multiple causes ranging from climate variability to price volatility and the low risk-bearing ability of farmers. Tracking farmers’ distress in a localized context is a prerequisite for timely action to provide sustainable livelihood options. Therefore, a field survey was conducted with 640 dryland farmers of 10 sub-district units from two states in India with the aim to identify the major indicators based on seven dimensions of distress and to construct a multidimensional Farmers’ Distress Index (FDI) at the farmer and sub-district levels. The FDI was built with seven dimensions of distress: exposure to risk, adaptive capacity, sensitivity, mitigation and adaptation strategies, triggers, psychological factors, and impacts. The study developed a broad-based FDI which can be used as a planning tool that can address the causes of farmers’ distress and also evolve measures to tackle those causes. Based on the result, the study recommends a location-specific distress management package based on various dimensions of the FDI. The paper also suggests an upscaling strategy to identify and prioritize the highly distressed farmers as well as sub-district geographical units by tracking a few sets of variables.

Suggested Citation

  • A. Amarender Reddy & Anindita Bhattacharya & S. Venku Reddy & Sandra Ricart, 2021. "Farmers’ Distress Index: An Approach for an Action Plan to Reduce Vulnerability in the Drylands of India," Land, MDPI, vol. 10(11), pages 1-24, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jlands:v:10:y:2021:i:11:p:1236-:d:677803

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    1. Srijita Ghosh & Kausik Gupta, 2023. "Dynamic Analysis of Watershed Management and Sustainable Agriculture in Dryland Regions: A Case Study of Purulia District, West Bengal," Review of Development and Change, , vol. 28(2), pages 207-244, December.
    2. Yue Sun & Yanhui Wang & Chong Huang & Renhua Tan & Junhao Cai, 2023. "Measuring farmers’ sustainable livelihood resilience in the context of poverty alleviation: a case study from Fugong County, China," Palgrave Communications, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 10(1), pages 1-16, December.
    3. Abiodun A. Ogundeji, 2022. "Adaptation to Climate Change and Impact on Smallholder Farmers’ Food Security in South Africa," Agriculture, MDPI, vol. 12(5), pages 1-16, April.
    4. Diego León Peña-Orozco & María Eugenia Londoño-Escobar & Andrés Mauricio Paredes Rodríguez & Jesús Gonzalez-Feliu & Gonzalo Navarrete Meneses, 2023. "Prioritizing Public Policy Implementation for Rural Development in a Developing Country via Multicriteria Classification," Economies, MDPI, vol. 12(1), pages 1-25, December.

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    More about this item


    distress indicators; agrarian risks; resilience measure; distress management; India; intervention;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • Q14 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Finance
    • Q15 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Land Ownership and Tenure; Land Reform; Land Use; Irrigation; Agriculture and Environment
    • Q18 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Policy; Food Policy; Animal Welfare Policy
    • Q17 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agriculture in International Trade


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