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/ Policy brief

Leveraging social protection programmes to advance climate-smart agriculture in Malawi. FAO Agricultural Development Economics Policy Brief No. 21

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.