Promoting production and marketing of root crops in Southern Africa in a changing climate using integrated Agricultural Research for Development (IAR4d) pathway
Climate change is expected to have adverse impacts on smallholder farmers whose livelihoods depend on rain-fed agriculture. In fact, climate change is expected to continue to pose a serious threat to agriculture in southern Africa as annual rainfall amounts are expected to decline and temperatures are expected to increase. Studies show that the impacts will depend on the extent of smallholder farmers’ adaptation in response to climate change and variability. However, despite numerous extension efforts and repeated past maize crop failures, smallholder farmers in southern Africa continue to show preference to maize over other drought resistant crops. The low rate of adoption of drought resistant crops in response to the changing climate has been blamed on the linear non-participatory manner in which agricultural research and development efforts are organised. The present study seeks to establish whether reorganising research and development in an integrated manner known as Integrated Agricultural Research for Development – (IAR4D) would contribute towards the adoption of drought resistant crops and also improve household incomes. The study used cross-sectional household survey data collected from Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi to determine the local average treatment effect of adopting drought resistant crops (in this case root and tuber crops) on household income. A multistage sampling technique was used to sample 600 households from the three countries. The data was collected as part of an end-line survey in the proof of IAR4D concept from conventional, treatment and control sites in each of the three countries. Results from the analysis show that smallholders in IAR4D villages which produced and sold root and tuber crops had higher household incomes than farmers who did not produce and sell these crops. The results also show that smallholder farmers who participated in IAR4D activities adopted roots and tuber crops to militate against the effects of climate change and variability. The study concluded that IAR4D could effectively deal with institutional and technical issues that constrain smallholders from adapting to climate change and variability. Furthermore, climate change adaptation strategies could be easily promoted using an integrated agricultural research for development approach.
Key words: Climate, adaptation, marketing, agriculture, innovations Roots and tubers, Southern Africa, IAR4D
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