Title: Factors that influence farmers’ decision to upscale conservation agriculture on their farmland: a case study of Mzimba district, northern Malawi

Final project
Year of publication:
Document URL: Link
Supervisors: Sjofn Vilhelmsdottir
conservation agriculture, CA upscaling, farmland, socio-economic characteristics


Almost 80% of Malawi’s population depends on agriculture for their livelihood. Agriculture in Malawi is, however, facing several challenges, including persistent droughts and declining soil fertility. Several stakeholders are promoting various interventions, including conservation agriculture (CA) to curb these challenges. Despite several efforts to promote CA, the current rate of upscaling CA is very low, with most farmers practicing it in small demonstration plots. This study, conducted in Mzimba, Malawi, was designed to identify individual level factors that influenced farmers’ decision to upscale CA, focusing on the famers’ socio-economic characteristics, and their access to input incentives and extension services. Quantitative data collected through semi-structured questionnaires, administered to 50 farmers, was used in the study. The results revealed that farmers’ gender and education level, as well as the farmers’ farmland sizes were associated with CA upscaling. Thus, male farmers were more likely to upscale CA than their female counterparts. Farmers with a higher education level upscaled CA more compared to those with a lower education level. Also, farmers with a larger farmland upscaled CA more than those with smaller farmland. The study’s findings suggest that farmer’s gender, education level and farmland size influence their decision to upscale CA while farmers’ access to input incentives and frequency of extension-farmer contacts did not influence farmers’ decision to upscale CA. The implication of these findings calls for stakeholders involved in CA promotion to consider the above social-economic factors when designing CA promotion strategies. Along with other recommendations, it is proposed that CA promoting agencies should address the gender gap in Malawian agriculture by ensuring that women are more engaged and prominent in CA upscaling, which would in turn enhance successful CA promotion.

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