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Cropping systems diversification to enhance productivity and adaptation to climate change in Malawi









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    Cropping system diversification in Eastern and Southern Africa: Identifying policy options to enhance productivity and build resilience 2018
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    Crop diversification is an important policy objective to promote climate change adaptation, yet the drivers and impacts of crop diversification vary considerably depending on the specific combinations of crops a farmer grows. This paper examines adoption determinants of seven different cropping systems in Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique, and the impact of their adoption on maize productivity and income volatility – using a multinomial endogenous treatment effect model. These cropping systems consist in different combinations of four categories of crops: dominate staple (maize), alternative staples, legumes, and cash-crops. The study finds that relative to maize mono-cropping systems, the vast majority of systems have either neutral or positive effects on maize productivity, and either reduce or have neutral effects on crop income volatility. In particular, cropping systems that include legumes produce better outcome in most cases than those that feature cash crops. From a policy perspective, three recurrent determinants of diversification are found. First, private sector output market access is an important driver of diversification out of maize mono-cropping. Policies crowding in private output market actors can help to promote a wide range of more diverse cropping systems. Second, proximity to public marketing board buying depots discourages the adoption of more diverse cropping systems. Therefore, reforms to these institutions must be part of any diversification strategy. Finally, in all countries and for all systems, land size is a key determinant of adopting more diverse systems. Thus, land policy is an integral element of any boarder diversification strategy.
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    Cropping systems diversification to enhance productivity and adaptation to climate change in Zambia
    BRINGING TOGETHER EVIDENCE AND POLICY INSIGHTS
    2019
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    Spatial disconnect between cropping system diversification and climate risk. In Zambia, farmers residing in areas with low and medium rainfall risk are more likely to adopt diversified systems than farmers in areas with lower rainfall and greater rainfall variability. Lack of diversification in high risk regions poses a significant threat to livelihood resilience in those regions. Diverse cropping systems improve productivity and resilience. Increased level of diversification is associated to more stable crop income, when compared to maize monocropping. However, farmers facing land fragmentation, weakness of private input and output markets and uncertainty from the public policies are less likely to adopt these systems. Strengthen investment in the private input and output markets. Competitive input and output markets is an important driver of diversification in Zambia. Identifying policy options to improve private market conditions, such as improved predictability of agricultural trade policy and promoting stable macro-economic conditions, can help support Zambia’s diversification objectives. Secure land tenure and land access. Farmers adopting cropping systems of three or more crops hold, on average, 2 hectares of land more than farmers adopting two-crop or monocropping systems in the same areas. Land policies that support farmers’ access to land, now and in the future, is a critical element of crop diversification.
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    Brochure, flyer, fact-sheet
    Cropping systems diversification to enhance productivity and adaptation to climate change in Mozambique 2019
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    Farmers in Mozambique are diversified, but subsistence-oriented. Thirty-seven percent of farmers in Mozambique grow a three-crop system based on maize, a legume, and an alternative staple, such as cassava or sorghum. This system is an effective adaption strategy, as it reduces crop income volatility compared to less diverse systems, but it is also associated with low levels of productivity, input use, and incomes. Adoption of cash cropping system improves farmers’ welfare. Farmers who adopt cash crops have higher average incomes and higher productivity levels. However, only 19 percent of farmers grow cash crops. Limited household resources and isolation from markets constrains the adoption of cash crop systems. Enhance commercialization by incentivizing value chain investments and improving market competition. Supporting investments in the trading and processing for widely grown crops, combined with improved pricing policies for cash crops can facilitate the adoption of more commercialized cropping systems. Expand and strengthen the improved seed sector. Increasing the availability of improved seeds is critical to promote commercialization and diversification. To this end, there is urgent need to develop and implement a National Seed Policy to regulate activities in both the formal and informal seed value chains.

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