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Leveraging social protection to advance climate-smart agriculture: evidence from Malawi












Ignaciuk, A., Scognamillo, A. & Sitko, N. 2021. Leveraging social protection to advance climate-smart agriculture: evidence from Malawi. FAO Agricultural Development Economics Working Paper 21-04. Rome, FAO




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    Leveraging social protection programmes to advance climate-smart agriculture in Malawi
    FAO Agricultural Development Economics Policy Brief No. 21
    2020
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    This brief details the three functional elements of climate vulnerability: risk exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity, in order to assess 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. Using three waves of national panel household survey data, we find that participation in MASAF significantly increases the likelihood that farm households adopt CSA practices. This suggests that MASAF participation improves farmers’ adaptive capacity by reducing direct and indirect constraints to adopting climate adaptive farm practices. Moreover, we empirically demonstrate that the joint treatment effect of MASAF participation in combination with the adoption of CSA practices generates greater and more consistent positive impacts on farm welfare than the standalone impacts of the treatments. This is indicative of synergies between social protection and agricultural interventions. Finally, we show that under extreme dry conditions the short term standalone adoption of CSA practices does not generate positive impacts on farm and household outcomes. However, when combined with MASAF participation, and particularly when the CSA practice is adopted for multiple years, evidence of positive impacts is found. These findings provide empirical evidence on the importance of multi-sectoral approaches that link agricultural interventions with social protection to address the climate vulnerability of resource poor farmers.
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    Can food aid relax farmers’ constraints to adopting climate-adaptive agricultural practices?
    Evidence from Ethiopia, Malawi and the United Republic of Tanzania
    2022
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    The adoption of climate-adaptive agricultural practices (CAAPs) among resource-poor smallholder households is typically hindered by liquidity and risk constraints. Using an inverse probability weighted estimator that uses three waves of nationally representative panel survey data from Ethiopia, Malawi and the United Republic of Tanzania, this article examines whether food transfers help overcome barriers to the adoption of selected CAAPs. The results show that in each country analysed, receiving food transfers increase the probability of adopting at least one CAAP.
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    Assessing the profitability and feasibility of climate-smart agriculture investment in Southern Malawi
    Understanding the costs and benefits in a volatile and changing climate
    2021
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    This working paper analyses the financial cost and benefit of adopting two different bundles of climate-smart agriculture (CSA) practices, which are tailored for the diverse conditions that prevail in southern Malawi. The results show the integration of CSA practices, including soil conservation, agroforestry, and livestock diversification, into conventional maize-legume and maize monocrop systems is profitable for farmers. Moreover, the profitability of these systems increases under extreme weather conditions that occur with increasing frequency in the region. However, the upfront costs and cost variability associated with the adoption of these CSA scenarios is high relative to conventional practices. In addition, while the Net Present Value is positive for the CSA scenarios, the monetary returns are small and are spread over a long investment period. These factors act as significant barriers to adopting CSA practices. Supporting farmers through climate financing or other mechanisms to make long-term private investment in CSA, based on the public benefits these investments generate for the environment, is critical for achieving widespread adoption.

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