Economics and Policy Innovations for Climate-Smart Agriculture


EPIC regularly produces a number of outputs targeted to the general audience, as well as to researchers, experts and policy makers. This section contains different resources directed to national and international policy-makers, researchers and to those interested in developing their knowledge on the nexus between adaptation, mitigation and food security to better contribute to open and collaborative dialogue on climate change and agriculture. Our products translate the field research and experience conducted by the EPIC programme into material for evidence-based policymaking.

The library contains working papers, policy briefs, presentationsreports and more. If you wish to be included in our mailing list and keep yourself updated with the most recent publications, please sign up to our newsletter or send an email to

Latest publication

Climate Variability, Adaptation Strategies and Food Security in Malawi
Asfaw et. al, 2014, ESA Working paper No. 14-08, FAO
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) HH adaptive capacity (iv) system-level adaptive capacity that serve as enabling factors for household-level adaptation.

Key messages

  • The factors that drive adoption of any one of the practices analyzed are distinct, thus there is no one strategy for supporting adoption - it depends on which techniques are the focus. However we do find that climactic variables, access to rural institutions and social capital play an important role in adoption of most practices.
  • The propensity of adopting any one practice is conditioned by whether another practice in the subset has been adopted or not. Some practices are complementary (e.g. improved maize seed and inorganic fertilizer) others are substitutes (e.g. inorganic fertilizer and organic fertilizer)
  • Climate variables have a major impact on which practices are adopted. Greater climate variability increases adoption of risk-reducing inputs - such as sustainable land management (SLM) measures - but reduces the use of inputs - such as inorganic fertilizer - with uncertain benefits in terms reducing risk. Regions with higher mean rainfall and lower maximum temperatures tend to use more inorganic fertilizer whereas higher mean rainfall and maximum temperatures favor SLM inputs. Delayed onset of rainfall also increases the adoption of SLM inputs but reduces the use of inorganic fertilizer.
  • On average adoption of both modern and SLM inputs have positive and statistically significant impacts on maize productivity. The observed impact is heterogeneous across gender and land size. For instance the positive impact of adoption of modern inputs is more pronounced in male headed households compared to female headed households whereas the opposite is the case for sustainable land management practices.