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


  • Mutenje, Munyaradzi
  • Kankwamba, Henry
  • Mangisonib, Julius
  • Kassie, Menale


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Mutenje, Munyaradzi & Kankwamba, Henry & Mangisonib, Julius & Kassie, Menale, 2016. "Agricultural innovations and food security in Malawi: Gender dynamics, institutions and market implications," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 240-248.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:tefoso:v:103:y:2016:i:c:p:240-248
    DOI: 10.1016/j.techfore.2015.10.004

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    2. Balaine, Lorraine & Dillon, Emma J. & Läpple, Doris & Lynch, John, 2020. "Can technology help achieve sustainable intensification? Evidence from milk recording on Irish dairy farms," Land Use Policy, Elsevier, vol. 92(C).
    3. Khataza, Robertson R.B. & Doole, Graeme J. & Kragt, Marit E. & Hailu, Atakelty, 2018. "Information acquisition, learning and the adoption of conservation agriculture in Malawi: A discrete-time duration analysis," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 132(C), pages 299-307.
    4. Nicole Claasen & Stefanie Lemke, 2019. "Strong ties, weak actors? Social networks and food security among farm workers in South Africa," Food Security: The Science, Sociology and Economics of Food Production and Access to Food, Springer;The International Society for Plant Pathology, vol. 11(2), pages 417-430, April.
    5. Loarne-Lemaire, Séverine Le & Bertrand, Gaël & Razgallah, Meriam & Maalaoui, Adnane & Kallmuenzer, Andreas, 2021. "Women in innovation processes as a solution to climate change: A systematic literature review and an agenda for future research," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 164(C).
    6. Amadu, Festus O. & McNamara, Paul E. & Miller, Daniel C., 2020. "Understanding the adoption of climate-smart agriculture: A farm-level typology with empirical evidence from southern Malawi," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 126(C).
    7. Marenya, Paswel P. & Gebremariam, Gebrelibanos & Jaleta, Moti & Rahut, Dil B., 2020. "Sustainable intensification among smallholder maize farmers in Ethiopia: Adoption and impacts under rainfall and unobserved heterogeneity," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 95(C).
    8. Tesfaye, Wondimagegn & Tirivayi, Nyasha, 2018. "The impacts of postharvest storage innovations on food security and welfare in Ethiopia," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 75(C), pages 52-67.

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