Adoption of agroforestry and the impact on household food security among farmers in Malawi


Agroforestry is increasingly regarded as an important adaptation and mitigation strategy against climate change. In particular, the use of fertilizer trees has been promoted as a practice that contributes to improved soil fertility through nitrogen fixation, by increasing supply of nutrients for crop production. While a lot of the evidence on the impact of fertilizer trees relies on on-farm experiments and correlational analysis, there is a paucity of rigorous evidence under actual smallholder farming conditions. This paper analyzes the impacts of adopting fertilizer trees such as Gliricidia sepium and Faidherbia albida on household food security.

We draw on survey data of 338 farmers in Malawi and use an endogenous switching regression to rigorously analyze adoption impacts. Econometric results show that use of fertilizer tree adoption increases the value of food crops by 35%. Disaggregation of the impacts through stratification by land ownership further reveal that farmers with smaller farms of up to 2 acres realize the highest gains. Furthermore, fertilizer tree use in conjunction with improved maize seed also significantly increased value of food crops. This study offers preliminary insights that contribute to an emerging field of research on quantitative assessment of agricultural interventions such as agroforestry practices using novel analytical approaches. We provide some policy insights and recommend the need for future research to be designed around development initiatives that consider fine-scale variation in social, economic and ecological context of farmers to improve uptake and adaptation to realize the full potential of agroforestry in improving soil fertility and household food security.

Coulibaly, J.; Chiputwa, B.; Nakelse, T.; Kundhlande, G.;
Journal Details
Agricultural Systems
Volume , Pages 52-69
Date Published: