shocks can affect many villages over a wide region, cultural traditions provide a similar type of informal insurance that results in the transfer of resources from households in villages with more favorable climate outcomes to those in villages, sometimes a great distance away, with less favorable outcomes. The tradition of exogamous marriage is helpful here, as financial aid can come to households who have had adverse weather outcomes from the households in which married daughters reside, which may be located in distant villages (Rosenzweig and Stark, 1989).
The effects of climatic variation also depend on agricultural producers' access to and use of hedging strategies. For example, although farmers worldwide diversify their crops, some countries have more sophisticated systems than others for fine-tuning that diversification (e.g., agricultural universities and hybrid seed industries that produce and advise on the use of diverse seeds). Farmers in some countries have ready access to commodities futures markets that allow them to lock in prices for some of their crop in advance of climatic variations. However, not all farmers with access to this strategy use itsome prefer to hedge by varying production practices or developing sources of nonfarm income (Weber, 1997). Irrigation, a hedging strategy in some regions, is available mainly to producers in areas in which public or collective investments have been made in the necessary infrastructure and effective institutions exist to maintain and manage the system.
The interdependence among the different methods for coping with climatic variability and the scope for engaging in them must be taken into account in evaluating the effects of climatic variation and the potential gains from improved climate forecasting. In addition, the combinations of individual and cultural coping strategies, developed over centuries and often serving populations well, can be fragile with respect to changes in environment and society. For example, the exploitation of resources over wide geographical areas that is a central coping strategy of pastoral societies in Africa has been constrained by population growth, which has encroached on the land used by pastoralists. This has increased their vulnerability to climatic fluctuations.
Improved climate forecasts may have complex effects on agricultural societies, extending beyond agricultural production. For example, an increased scope for taking ex ante production actions (e.g., diversification of income sources) may reduce the need for other ex ante measures on the production and consumption sides (e.g., crop insurance, norms of reciprocity). To the extent that the provision of informal insurance and consumption maintenance is a strong component of the organization of social relations in many societies, there may be important ramifications for social relations in these societies from introducing better forecasting skill. Some of the social consequences of improvements in forecast skill can be