Bottom up Adaptation Strategies for a Sustainable Europe

Perceptions of climate change: Hop growers in the Czech Republic

The agricultural sector is particularly exposed to changes in climate. As such, there is a need to implement adaptation practices that take into account the perceptions of famers from the ‘bottom-up’. In March 2014, a survey of hop growers in the Czech Republic was conducted by BASE partner CzechGlobe. It revealed that a majority of hop growers perceive that global climate change is occurring, and have had experience with extreme weather events, while believing that governments, agricultural insurers and farmers themselves have an important role to play in selecting and implementing adaptation practices. 

By: Eliška K. Lorencová, Blanka Loučková, David Vačkář, CzechGlobe

The agricultural sector is particularly exposed to climatic change. Agricultural practices are climate-dependent and yields vary over years depending on shorter term weather patterns (1). Changes in temperatures and rainfall patterns directly affect crop yield and subsequent food production and indirectly effect changes in water availability (2).
In the Ústí region of the Czech Republic, hop cultivation is a longstanding and traditional agricultural production activity. More than 73 % of the total hop planting area in the Czech Republic is situated in this region. In BASE, we aim to investigate the perceptions of local farmers towards climate change (in particular drought and extreme weather events) as well as preferences towards suitable adaptation measures and strategies in the agricultural sector. 
Hops fields in the Czech Republic (Photo credit: Eliška K. Lorencová, CzechGlobe) 
In order to obtain comprehensive information, a questionnaire was developed that focused mainly on perceptions towards climate change, extreme weather events, and current and planned adaptation measures. Design of the questionnaire was led by Aarhus University, in cooperation with FFCUL, CzechGlobe and UPM. It was distributed in Denmark (read more here), Portugal, Czech Republic and Spain. 
Questionnaire respondents 
In March 2014, the questionnaire was distributed among hop growers situated mainly in Ústí region. We received answers from 50 respondents out of 119 hop growers in the Czech Republic. From the respondents, 88% were men, 12% women; regarding education, 88% had secondary and higher education and had an average of 24 years of experience farming. The majority, 52%, were farming on area of hop gardens up to 25 hectares. 
A selection of questions and responses
The first question asked was the degree to which the respondents agree or disagree with the statement: “Global climate change is occurring.”
 Figure 1: “Global climate change is occurring.”

The majority of respondents agreed (42% agree, 14% strongly agree) with the statement “Global climate change is occurring.” On the other hand, 10% of the respondents strongly disagree and 12% disagree with this statement.

The following question asked whether farmers have observed, during their years working at the farm, more frequent extreme weather events (e.g. drought, windstorms, hail, extreme precipitation, floods)?

Figure 2: Increase in frequency of extreme weather events

The majority of respondents (74%) have observed more frequent extreme weather events. In contrast, a minority, 22% of the respondents claimed that the haven´t observed any increase in frequency of extreme weather events.


When asked about their experience with specific extreme weather events (see Figure 3 below), the majority of respondents had ‘rather more’ to ‘great’ experience with these events. The highest experience (‘rather more’ and ‘great’ experience) farmers had was with drought (74%), severe storms causing damage to trees (69.4%), severe storms causing flooding (75.6%) and hail (60%).

Figure 3: Experience with specific extreme weather events

The last question concerned responsibility for initiating climate change adaptation process, asking: Who should be responsible for initiating steps to protect your farm from the potential negative impacts of climate change (e.g. drought, floods, and storms)?

Figure 4: Responsibility to initiate steps to climate change adaptation

In conclusion, the majority of hop growers (56%) in the Czech Republic agree that global climate change is happening. Moreover, farmers have substantial experience with extreme weather events, such as drought, severe storms, hails, changes in water availability, etc. The majority of respondents perceived responsibility of government, themselves and agricultural insurance in initiating steps to climate change adaptation.


  1. Moriondo, M., Bindi, M., Kundzewicz, Z.W., Szwed, M., Chorynski, A., Matczak, P., Radziejewski, M., McEvoy, D., Wreford, A., 2010. Impact and adaptation opportunities for European agriculture in response to climatic change and variability. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change 15 (7), 657–679.
  2. Nelson, G.C., Rosegrant, M.W., Koo, J., Robertson, R., Sulser, T., Zhu, T., Ringler, C., Msangi, S., Palazzo, A., Batka, M., Magalhaes, M., Valmonte-Santos, R., Ewing, M., Lee, D., 2009. Climate Change: Impact on Agriculture and Cost of Adaptation. International Food Policy Research Institute. Washington, D.C.
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