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A comprehensive scoping and assessment study of climate smart agriculture (CSA) policies in Malawi
30 April 2014


This report details the results of a comprehensive scoping and assessment study on Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) in Malawi. The study was commissioned by the Food Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN). FANRPAN is implementing a programme that comprises a number of climate-smart agriculture (CSA) projects. The projects seek to (a) generate CSA research-based evidence and address knowledge gaps; (b) strengthen CSA institutional capacity and support capacity building of young professional on CSA and foodsecurity research; (c) support advocacy campaigns for the development and implementation of responsive CSA policies; and (d) support the uptake of CSA best practices.

The overall objective of the FANRPAN CSA policy programme is to increase agricultural productivity and strengthen the resilience of vulnerable smallholder farmers to the impact of climate change. The FANRPAN CSA programme currently covers 16 countries: Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

It was against this background that the comprehensive scoping and assessment study was commissioned. The objectives of the study were to:

  1. Conduct comprehensive reviews of the existing CSA policy context in each study country;
  2. Analyse gaps in the existing policy frameworks;
  3. Identify relevant policy recommendations;
  4. Develop and share policy recommendations (briefs) at national and regional levels.

Two study approaches were used in the study, including review of relevant documents and key-informant interviews.

Many issues were analysed in the study, such as the concept of climate-smart agriculture, the key stakeholders dealing with the issues of CSA, the specific technologies that various stakeholders are implementing, policies, gender issues etc. These analyses and the review of various relevant documents have led the study team to draw a number of lessons as outlined in the section below:

  1. Agroforestry and Conservation Agriculture are the main CSA technologies being promoted and implemented in Malawi
  2. Many policies in Malawi do recognise the negative effects of climate change, though specific issues (such as recommended technologies) of climate-smart agriculture are not implicitly indicated
  3. Many stakeholders such as... are involved in the promotion of CSA in Malawi and they work in collaboration with the Government of Malawi, especially the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security
  4. Farmers through farmers organisations like NASFAM have embraced CSA technologies
  5. Research into the socio-economic impact of CSA is still limited in Malawi. There is therefore a lot of research scope that individual researchers and institutions can undertake
  6. Women are highly involved in CSA as focus crops (soybeans and ground nuts) are less labour intensive; hence suitable for them
  7. There are no clear guidelines to govern the implementation of CSA in Malawi

The aforementioned lessons present both the successes and existing challenges in the program areas. Further scrutiny into the challenges has elicited some important recommendations as follows:

  1. Bringing together a group of sector professionals to operate as a "Think Tank" to advance a common vision of the issues related to scaling-up CSA programmes;
  2. Initiating specific "projects" (e.g. action research, workshops) involving a wider group of stakeholders to improve our understanding of the scaling up;
  3. Engaging in advocacy activities to support, promote scaling up community management. Advocacy will be principally aimed at: a) policy makers and b) the wider community of sector professionals;
  4. The Malawian government and all relevant stakeholders should use CSA to adapt to the vagaries of climate change, but clearly women’s participation must be central to any of these efforts;
  5. Malawian policies related to agriculture should be reviewed to include specific recommendations and strategies how CSA will be implemented;
  6. More research is required to quantify the socio-economic benefits of CSA in Malawi. Evidence based approach in the promotion of CSA will encourage and motivate various stakeholders (including farmers) to take action in favour of CSA.
  7. Land tenure regulations at individual and community level are a critical success factor to the adoption of CSA, providing incentive for investment in farm resources. In this way, these regulations should be formulated in such a way as to provide security in land ownership so that rural people can be motivated to invest in CSA.
  8. CSA can and will be extensively adopted if local institutions are strengthened, such as agricultural input and output markets, extension services and micro-finance

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