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Planning and costing agricultural adaptation to climate change in the small-scale maize production system of Malawi

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Malawi has recently experienced an increased incidence of climate change-related hazards. Agriculture is one of the most vulnerable sectors and consequently has suffered from the negative impacts of climate change. As a result, Malawi's agricultural sector is adapting to the changing conditions to survive.

This adaptation is inevitable and will add a cost to the national economy and households. Currently, the exact costs of adaptation are not yet known hence this study was undertaken to investigate what adaptation measures are currently available in the maize subsector in Chikhwawa District in the Lower Shire Valley of Malawi and how much it will cost at household, community and national level to continue to carry out such activities. The calculation is based on climate projections that are likely to happen in Chikhwawa in the next 50 years.

The study revealed that communities are already coping with climate change through a number of strategies including: use of early and drought-resistant varieties, irrigation systems, selling of assets, winter cropping and diversification. Regarding climate projections, it is expected that the temperatures in Chikhwawa will increase by 3oC by 2065, which will translate into having more days in a month with a mean temperature of above 32oC. It is also expected that drier conditions will prevail in the future (2046 - 2065).

In terms of costs, Chikhwawa will require about US$55,034,932 (over five years) in the maize subsector to adapt to climate change. The results of the study suggest that communities and government should start planning for the subsector bearing in mind the likely scenarios. The study recommends that research into drought-resistant varieties, investment in extension and training, as well as investment in irrigation should be undertaken.

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