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FAO Documents Climate-Smart Agriculture Activities in Malawi and Zambia

FAOOctober 2013: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) has released a working paper that explores the livelihood and food security benefits of agroforestry and conservation agriculture in Malawi and Zambia, as well as economic feasibility analyses of the practices.

The FAO paper, titled 'Climate-Smart Agriculture: A review of current practice of agroforestry and conservation agriculture in Malawi and Zambia,' finds that agroforestry has well-documented improvements in yields and profitability in both countries, while the evidence-base for the benefits of conservation agriculture is positive, but weaker. The paper notes that, while the adoption rate of these practices is higher in Malawi and Zambia than in other countries, it is lower than would be expected considering the potential benefits and the investment made by governments and donors in promoting these climate-smart agriculture activities. The analysis notes that agroforestry provides significant fertilization benefits, though not as much as inorganic fertilizers, but that the two can be used to complement one another.

With respect to mitigation benefits, agroforestry offers high potential for carbon sequestration, while conservation agriculture offers a relatively low potential. The report highlights constraints to the adoption of conservation agriculture related to labor constraints, and the opportunity costs of crop residues. Other constraints include insecure perennial private rights to land and poor markets for tree seeds. The work was developed as part of the FAO Economics and Policy Innovations for Climate-Smart Agriculture (EPIC) programme. [Publication: Climate-Smart Agriculture: A Review of Current Practice of Agroforestry and Conservation Agriculture in Malawi and Zambia] [FAO EPIC Website]