Response to climate risks among smallholder farmers in Malawi: A multivariate probit assessment of the role of information, household demographics, and farm characteristics

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1 January 2017

Why do many smallholder farmers fail to adopt what appear to be relatively simple agronomic
or management practices which can help them cope with climate-induced stressors?
Using household and plot level data collected in 2011, we implement a
multivariate probit model to assess the determinants of farmer adaptation behavior to climatic
risks and the relative contribution of information, credit and education on the probability
of adopting specific practices in response to adverse changes in weather patterns.
We find that plot characteristics, credit constraints and availability of climate-related
information explain the adoption of several of these practices. In relative terms, we also
find that even when financial limitations are binding, making climate-related information
available can still motivate farmers to adapt. Policy implications are that the deepening of
extension access with information on the appropriate adaptation strategies is crucial to
help farmers make adaptation choices. The need to foster credit markets for easy accessibility
and affordability by farmers or otherwise strengthening access to assets is also

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Sustainable Development Goals

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Publication | 4 April 2017