Yield effects of climate-smart agriculture aid investment in southern Malawi

Festus O. Amadu, Paul E. McNamara, Daniel C. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Binding resource constraints in many low- and middle-income countries aggravate food insecurity risk in the face of climate change. To help mitigate such risk and increase food security, international development agencies have invested billions of dollars in climate-smart agriculture (CSA) programs over the past decade. However, rigorous evidence on the food security impacts of CSA aid through crop yields remains scant generally, and specifically in sub-Saharan Africa. Most studies have not explicitly linked CSA adoption and yield impacts with CSA aid interventions among smallholder farmers. Here, we respond to this knowledge gap by estimating the impact of a major CSA aid effort (the United States Agency for International Development-funded Wellness and Agriculture for Life's Advancement (WALA) project) on agricultural yields in Southern Malawi. Based on primary survey data from a sample of 808 households in the project area, we use endogenous switching regression and a control function approach to estimate CSA adoption and impacts on maize yield in 2016, controlling for potential program placement bias, selection bias in CSA adoption, and endogeneity issues. We found a 53% increase in maize yield among CSA adopters in the drought year of 2016. Results demonstrate that policies and funding streams supporting CSA in low-income, dryland contexts such as southern Malawi can have important impacts on food security by boosting crop yields in the face of increasing climate uncertainty and extreme weather shocks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101869
JournalFood Policy
StatePublished - Apr 2020


  • Climate finance
  • Climate-smart agriculture
  • Food security
  • Maize yield
  • Malawi

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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