71% of farmers say that climate change already has a large impact on their farm, and even more are worried about the impact this will have in the future. 73% have experienced increasing pest and disease pressure. On average farmers estimate that their incomes had reduced by 15.7% due to climate change in the past two years. One in six farmers even identifies income losses of over 25% during this period.
These are some of the key findings from the ‘Farmer Voice’ survey, which reveals the challenges facing farmers around the world as they try to mitigate the impacts of climate change and adapt for the future. To conduct the ‘Farmer Voice’, life science company Bayer commissioned an agency to independently interview 800 farmers globally, representing farms large and small from Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, India, Kenya, Ukraine, and the United States in equal numbers.
Farmers expect the repercussions of climate change to continue. Three-quarters of them globally (76%) are worried about the impact that climate change will have on their farm, with farmers in Kenya and India most concerned.
While climate change is a dominant overarching theme, economic challenges are the biggest priority over the next three years. Over half (55%) of farmers placed fertilizer costs among the top three challenges, followed by energy costs (47%), price and income volatility (37%), and the cost of crop protection (36%). The importance of fertilizer costs becomes most apparent in Kenya, India, and Ukraine.
In Ukraine, 70% of farmers named fertilizer costs as one of the top three challenges, showing that the concrete materialized consequences of the war pose big pressures on farmers in the country. In addition, 40% named general disruption due to the war as a top challenge. Apart from that Ukrainian farmers share many of the same characteristics of their global peers, for example more than three-quarters (77%) state that climate change has already largely impacted their farm.
Farmers are taking steps to mitigate climate change and value innovation
More than 80% of surveyed farmers are already taking or planning to take steps to apply measures that contribute to reducing greenhouse gases. The top focus areas are using cover crops (43% do so already or intend to do so), using renewable energy or biofuels (37%) and using innovative seeds to reduce fertilizer or crop protection use (33%). Alongside this, every single farmer surveyed claims to already apply or plans to apply measures to help biodiversity. Over half (54%) say they already apply measures to protect insects, such as insect hotels, or plan to do so in the next three years.
To be ready for the future, farmers value innovation. Over half (53%) of them say access to seeds and traits designed to better cope with extreme weather would most benefit their farm. A similar number (50%) called for better crop protection technology. 42% said that better access to irrigation technology would benefit their farm. Looking at their practices, improving efficient land use, diversifying crops, and better soil health were ranked as the most important routes to success.