Rome — Cash handouts are the best way to support smallholder farmers struggling due to drought, but for farmers experiencing wetter weather, agricultural inputs such as fertilisers and pesticides help most, a study has found. As scientists predict changes in rainfall patterns as a result of climate change, the study’s findings could help countries and aid agencies tackle hunger more effectively. The study, published on Friday in Scientific Reports, covers nearly 2,000 smallholder farms in 12 countries in West and East Africa and Asia. Cash was critical in the short term for farmers suffering from dry weather, because "if your farm is lacking rainfall, it doesn’t matter if you have a variety of agricultural inputs or practices", said Meredith Niles of the University of Vermont, a lead author of the study. When rainfall is abundant, however, providing pesticides, fertiliser, veterinary medicines and livestock are the best ways to ensure farmers can salvage their harvests. "This kind o...

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