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How Do African Farm Households Respond to Changes in Current and Past Weather Patterns? A Structural Panel Data Analysis from Malawi

Author

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  • Juan Sesmero
  • Jacob Ricker-Gilbert
  • Aaron Cook

Abstract

We use three waves of nationally representative household-level panel data from Malawi to estimate a structural model characterizing the response of smallholder farm households to current and past weather patterns, and the subsequent impacts on household net income. We also quantify heterogeneity among households along the wealth spectrum regarding their ability to adapt to evolving weather patterns. This approach yields two key findings. First, adverse weather history prompts households to devote more time to maize cultivation on their own farms, to the detriment of other, possibly more remunerative income sources. Households also reduce application of productivity-enhancing inputs, such as fertilizer and improved maize varieties, in response to adverse weather history. Our results are robust to different clustering structures and falsification tests aimed at ruling out alternative explanations to observed trends. Second, we find that, by maintaining a more diversified income structure, wealthier households are better able to adapt to adverse weather history. Consequently, adverse changes in past weather may be regressive in nature, creating a “climate-induced” poverty trap that locks poor smallholder households into low-value maize cultivation from season to season. This finding suggests that developing more weather-resilient maize varieties and promoting smallholder livelihood diversification strategies may help mitigate the effects of adverse weather on the most vulnerable households.

Suggested Citation

  • Juan Sesmero & Jacob Ricker-Gilbert & Aaron Cook, 2018. "How Do African Farm Households Respond to Changes in Current and Past Weather Patterns? A Structural Panel Data Analysis from Malawi," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 100(1), pages 115-144.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:ajagec:v:100:y:2018:i:1:p:115-144.
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/ajae/aax068
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Francesca Marchetta & David E Sahn & Luca Tiberti, 2019. "The Role of Weather on Schooling and Work of Young Adults in Madagascar," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 101(4), pages 1203-1227.
    2. Lenis Saweda O. Liverpool-Tasie & Awa Sanou & Justice A. Tambo, 2019. "Climate change adaptation among poultry farmers: evidence from Nigeria," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 157(3), pages 527-544, December.
    3. Francesca Marchetta & David E. Sahn & Luca Tiberti, 2018. "School or work?The role of weather shocks in Madagascar," Cahiers de recherche CREATE 2018-2, CREATE.
    4. Awais Jabbar & Qun Wu & Jianchao Peng & Jian Zhang & Asma Imran & Luo Yao, 2020. "Synergies and Determinants of Sustainable Intensification Practices in Pakistani Agriculture," Land, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(4), pages 1-16, April.
    5. Oumer, Ali M. & Burton, Michael, 2018. "Drivers and Synergies in the Adoption of Sustainable Agricultural Intensification Practices: A Dynamic Perspective," 2018 Annual Meeting, August 5-7, Washington, D.C. 273871, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    6. Bannor, Frank & Dikgang, Johane & Gelo, Dambala, 2021. "Agricultural total factor productivity growth, technical efficiency, and climate variability in sub-Saharan Africa," EconStor Preprints 231310, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics.

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