Responding to crop failure: Understanding farmers’ coping strategies in Southern Malawi
This article in the Sustainability Journal examines farmers’ coping strategies for crop failure and the determinants of their choices using household level data from rural southern Malawi. The results of the study highlight that farmers are not responding directly to climate variability, but to crop failure, which is influenced by climate stress, as well as other constraints, such as poor soil fertility and lack of agricultural inputs and technologies. The coping strategies adopted by households are mostly ex-post measures, including engaging in casual labor, small businesses and the sale of forest products. The main determinants of the adoption of these coping options are education, gender of the head of household, soil fertility and frequency of crop failure. This study concludes by recommending, among other things, that policies for the more efficient communication of climate change threats should emphasize the risk of crop failure. Furthermore, initiatives to assist households to better cope with climate change should take into consideration the local context of decision-making which is shaped by multiple stressors.