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Leveraging social protection programmes to advance climate-smart agriculture in Malawi

FAO Agricultural Development Economics Policy Brief No. 21













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    Leveraging social protection to advance climate-smart agriculture: evidence from Malawi 2021
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    In many developing countries the adoption of climate sustainable practices is hindered by resource and risk barriers. This paper assesses the interactions between participation in Malawi’s largest public works programme, the Malawi Social Action Fund (MASAF), and three widely promoted climate-smart agriculture (CSA) practices. The underlying hypotheses to be tested are: (a) that participation in the MASAF programme reduce both the budget and the risk constraints to the adoption of sustainable management practices; and (b) the joint treatment effect of MASAF and CSA increases household farms’ productivity and welfare. Drawing on three waves of national panel household survey data, we find that participation in MASAF significantly increases the probability that farm households adopt all the CSA practices considered for this study.
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    Climate variability, adaptation strategies and food security in Malawi 2014
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    This paper assesses farmers’ incentives and conditioning factors that hinder or promote adaptation strategies and evaluates its impact on crop productivity by utilizing household level data collected in 2011 from nationally representative sample households in Malawi. We distinguish between (i) exposure to climatic disruptions, (ii) bio-physical sensitivity to such disruptions, (iii) household adaptive capacity in terms of farmers’ ability to prepare and adjust to the resulting stress, and, fina lly, (iv) system-level adaptive capacity that serve as enabling factors for household-level adaptation. We employ a multivariate probit (MVP) and instrumental variable technique to model farming practice selection decisions and their yield impact estimates. We find that exposure to delayed onset of rainfall and greater climate variability as represented by the coefficient of variation of rainfall and temperature is positively associated with the choice of risk-reducing agricultural practices suc h as tree planting, legume intercropping, and soil and water conservation (SWC); however, it reduces the use of inputs (such as inorganic fertilizer) whose risk reduction benefits are uncertain. Biophysical sensitivity of plots increases the likelihood of choice of tree planting and SWC. In terms of household adaptive capacity, we find that wealthier households are more likely to adopt both modern and sustainable land management (SLM) inputs; and are more likely to adopt SLM inputs on plots unde r more secure tenure. In terms of system-level adaptive capacity, results show the key role of rural institutions, social capital and supply-side constraints in governing selection decisions for all practices considered, but particularly for tree planting and both organic and inorganic fertilizer. Finally for productivity, we find that on average use of both modern and SLM practices have positive and statistically significant impact on productivity of maize. For SLM practices that also respond t o exposure and sensitivity, these results provide direct evidence of their potential to aide households in adapting to further climate change. Results presented have implications for understanding and overcoming barriers to selection for each practice, distinguishing structural aspects such as exposure and sensitivity from potential interventions at the household or systemic levels linked to adaptive capacity.
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    Local economy impacts and cost-benefit analysis of social protection and agricultural interventions in Malawi 2019
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    Using rural economy-wide impact simulation methods and cost-benefit analysis, this study examines the impacts of individual and combined social protection and agricultural interventions in Malawi on incomes, poverty and production. The goal of this analysis is to provide evidence on policy options to increase coordination and coherence between social protection and agricultural programmes, with the objective of reducing poverty, increasing incomes and enhancing agricultural production and productivity. Impacts of interventions on targeted households can be estimated using experimental or quasi-experimental methods, but there are little rigorous evaluations available on the impacts of Malawi’s social protection and agricultural interventions. Therefore, to estimate the impacts of a range of policy options for standalone and combined interventions, the study uses micro-data from household surveys to model the production of targeted and non-targeted households in rural Malawi, as well as their impacts on poverty and inequality. Research shows that significant income gains in rural areas can extend beyond the direct beneficiary households, as a result of consumption and other local linkages. Given the income gained by these vulnerable households, and its multiplier effects in local economies, the result could be substantial benefits for ineligible households living in the local economy. It is quite possible that the impacts of these programmes on communities as a whole are larger than the direct impact originating from interventions directly targeted to the beneficiaries themselves. The analytical approach taken in this paper makes it possible to quantify the impacts of a range of social protection and agricultural interventions on households living in Malawi’s rural economy, which are usually missed by other types of (programme) evaluations. These economy-wide impacts are then used to undertake an economy-wide cost-benefit analysis of individual or combined interventions.

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