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Keywords:

  • Drought resilience model;
  • risk perception;
  • technology adoption model;
  • water scarcity;
  • land rezoning

Abstract Sustained droughts coupled with increasing pressure from urbanization severely test the ability of farmers to continue in agriculture. Understanding farmers' resilience to such pressures is increasingly becoming a significant policy concern. In this paper, a new measure of resilience to severe and sustained droughts in agriculture is derived as the ability to continue farming by saving and carrying forward water through the adoption of water efficient technology. In addition, the role of behavioral factors—such as subjective risk perception over the probability of droughts, of the probability of land getting urbanized, and of resistance to revising beliefs over water scarcity situation—in determining farmers' resilience to droughts is explored. Findings highlight the key role played by behavioral factors in influencing the decision to adopt when the economic factors, such as the price of water, do not capture the true opportunity costs of water. The range of available technological options is found to be crucial too, as marginal improvements in technology do not encourage adoption. An empirical application to the case of lettuce farming in Western Australia reveals that in the presence of speculative benefits from land rezoning, technological adoption is done only for enhancing profits in agriculture and not for improving resilience to droughts. Land rezoning possibilities may further distort technology adoption decisions, thereby, reducing resilience to droughts.