Agricultural innovations and food security in Malawi: Gender dynamics, institutions and market implications uri icon

abstract

  • The main objective of this paper was to analyze the driving forces that enhance farm households' decision to adopt agricultural innovations and the implications of these decisions on household food security. Maize variety diversity, soil and water conservation and improved storage or combinations of these accounted for 98% of agricultural innovations followed by the farmers in the study area. Using data from 892 randomly sampled households obtained from six districts of Malawi, the research employed a maximum simulated likelihood estimation of a multinomial endogenous treatment effect model to account for unobservable heterogeneity that influences technology adoption decision and maize productivity. Results revealed considerable heterogeneity in the choice of agricultural innovations practiced by smallholder farmers ranging from none to all practices within their fields. For instance 24% adopted improved maize varieties and storage; 14% improved maize, soil and water conservation, 14% improved maize only and 36% practiced all the technologies while 12% practiced none. In addition, the results showed that spouse's education, marital status, religion and informal networks are important factors in shaping women's participation in agricultural technology choice decisions. Exposure to production shocks such as drought, access to input and output markets, land size and gender of the plot manager of the plots explained the variation in farmers' propensities to adopt agricultural innovations. Respondents from drought prone areas, with small land size had higher incentives to adopt all the agricultural technologies as risk minimizing strategies. Conversely, farmers from high potential regions with bigger land sizes and higher asset and crop diversity indexes were less likely to adopt these agricultural innovations. Overall, adoption of improved maize and storage technologies resulted in significant increase in maize output per unit area though it may be important for researchers and policy makers to understand the social and institutional settings in which the technology is targeted, to benefit both men and women farmers equally. (C) 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

publication date

  • 2016
  • 2016