Title: Adoption of participatory integrated climate services for agriculture (PICSA) methodology: Challenges and opportunities in Chikwawa district, Malawi

Author(s): Ackim July Dickson
Final project
Year of publication:
Supervisors: Johanna Gisladottir
PICSA methodology, climate information, climate-smart agriculture, sustainable land management, Malawi


In Malawi, the agriculture sector faces significant biophysical and socio-economic challenges such as low agricultural productivity and population growth. Highly variable rainfall has made it difficult for farmers to plan which crops to plant and when to plant them. The Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security introduced the Participatory Integrated Climate Services for Agriculture (PICSA) methodology in 2015 as one of the approaches for delivering agricultural extension services. The aim of the methodology is to build the capacity of agriculture extension agents and farmers to use and integrate downscaled seasonal forecasts and climate information with relevant and location-specific crop, livestock and livelihood information. Chikwawa is one of the districts in Malawi implementing this methodology. Frontline staff have so far trained 4,360 Lead Farmers in the PICSA methodology. Despite many benefits offered by the methodology, adoption in the district is low. This study was conducted to identify factors that affect adoption of the PICSA methodology in adapting and mitigating the effects of climate change in Chikwawa district. It was assumed that understanding the key factors that affect adoption could help agriculture extension workers and otkher stakeholders to make informed decisions on the best strategies to be used to address the contextual needs of farmers. The study used qualitative methods to collect data. Key informant interviews with experts and household interviews with farmers were conducted. The results of the study suggest that low levels of education, low income levels and small land holding sizes could affect adoption of the methodology. Benefits of the methodology include informed decision making on the best enterprises to pursue, increased resilience to the effects of climate change, and improved agricultural productivity. Built on the study, the following strategies for improving adoption are suggested: improving extension services, intensifying awareness campaigns, incorporating the methodology in the school curriculum and programmes of the Ministry of Agriculture, and increasing the coverage of equipment for recording climatic information for accurate and efficient delivery of seasonal weather forecasts and advisories.

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