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Compendium on methods and tools to evaluate impacts of, and vulnerability and adaptation to, climate change

Relative Risk Index (RRI)

RRI illustrates the overall level of risk a farmer faces in light of various cropping decisions and climatic variation. In the study referenced here, various levels of risk are categorized and rated and then the proportion of the total farm area planted to each category of risk is calculated. The index is determined on the basis of the proportion of relatively risky versus relatively conservative crops planted.

Appropriate Use To illustrate the relative risk positions of individuals (before or after adaptation) and begin to explain changes in cropping practices.
Scope All locations; farm or regional level analysis.
Key Output A relative risk index
Key Input Data on annual variations in cropping practices.
Ease of Use Easy
Training Required No formal training required, although an understanding of various agronomic practices is an asset.
Documentation Smit, B., R. Blain, and P. Keddie. 1997. Corn hybrid selection and climatic variability: Gambling with nature? The Canadian Geographer 41(4):429-438.

Used in research of commercial cash crop farming in Ontario, Canada.

Contacts for Framework, Documentation, Technical Assistance

Dr. Barry Smit

University of Guelph, Department of Geography, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1 Canada; Tel: 519.824.4120 ext. 3279; Fax: 519.837.2940; e-mail:

Cost Not identified
References See documentation