The Role of Millets in Climate Risk Reduction Evidance from
Amidst growing concerns about the threats posed by climate change for rural livelihoods, policy makers have given increasing attention to the need for more climate secure agriculture. This paper explores the challenges and opportunities of encouraging the cultivation of millets, a class of coarse grain cereals that are both water efficient and drought resistant that are prominent in rainfed regions of the developing world. Based on a qualitative study in the Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh, India, we explore how millets factor into households’ production strategies and their role as a risk response strategy. Millets, we found, play an important role in mitigating households’ exposure to climate risk, both by diversifying production portfolios and as a contingency crop to confront delayed rains at planting time. Nonetheless, there remain important limitations in the viability of millets due to their low income generating capacity. To have a more significant impact on welfare and sustainability, policy needs to address the structural conditions of vulnerability that limit the viability of more secure livelihoods. We explore some of the ways that state intervention can make millets more viable by enhancing their terms of marketability and providing other kinds of support.