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This study used a three-year panel dataset for 350 Malawian farm households to examine the potential for widespread adoption of drought tolerant (DT) maize varieties, a technology that holds considerable promise for helping smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) adapt to drought risk. Regression results revealed that DT maize cultivation increased substantially from 2006 to 2012, with the main driver being the Malawi Farm Input Subsidy Program. Recently experienced drought and farmer risk aversion stimulated adoption of DT maize. In yield performance, improved maize varieties performed significantly better than local maize during the 2011/12 drought year. However, DT maize did not perform significantly better than other improved maize varieties used in Malawi, which is in contradiction to results obtained from on-station and on-farm trials. A plausible explanation is that the severe drought in Malawi in the 2011/12 season occurred early in the rainy season and DT maize primarily provides an advantage in the case of late droughts during the silking/grain filling stage of the crop. Preliminary results herein suggest that it was lack of rainfall in December 2011 that constrained maize yield while rainfallin January and February was less limiting. Additionally, the length of the longest dry spells in December and February further strengthens the evidence in favor of this explanation, but further research is needed to reach a conclusion.

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Alene, A. D., Menkir, A., Ajala, S. O., Badu-Apraku, B., Olanrewaju, A. S., Manyong, V. M., & Ndiaye, A. (2009). The economic and poverty impacts of maize research in west and central Africa. Agricultural Economics, 40, 535–550. Burke, M., & Lobell, D. (2010). Food security and adaptation to climate change: What do we know? In Lobell D. & Burke, M (eds.) Climate Change and Food Security, http://link.springer.com/book/10.1007% 2F978-90-481-2953-9. CIMMYT (2013). The drought tolerant maize for Africa project. DTMA Brief, September. International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center. http://dtma.cimmyt.org/index.php/about/background. Deressa, T. T., Hassan, R. M., Ringler, C., Alemu, T., & Yusuf, M. (2009). Determinants of farmers’ choice of adaptation methods to climate change in the Nile basin of Ethiopia. Global Environmental Change, 19(2), 248–255. Dillon, A., Mueller, V., & Salau, S. (2011). Migratory responses to agricultural risk in northern Nigeria. American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 93(4), 1048–1061. Fisher, M., Chaudhury, M., & McCusker, B. (2010). Do forests help rural households adapt to climate variability? Evidence from southern Malawi. World Development, 38(9), 1241–1250. Fisher, M., Abate, T., Lunduka, R. W., Asnake, W., Alemayehu, Y., & Madulu, R. B. (2015). Drought tolerant maize for farmer adaptation to drought in sub-Saharan Africa: determinants of adoption in eastern and southern Africa. Climatic Change, 1-17. Holden, S. T. (2014). Risky choices of poor people: comparing risk preference elicitation approaches in field experiments. CLTS Working Paper No. 10/2014. Centre for Land Tenure Studies, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Ås, Norway. Holden, S. T., & Lunduka, R. (2012). Do fertilizer subsidies crowd out organic manures? The case of Malawi. Agricultural Economics, 43, 301–312. Holden, S. T., & Lunduka, R. (2013). Who benefit from Malawi’s farm input subsidy program? Forum for Development Studies, 40, 1–25. Holden, S. T., & Lunduka, R. (2014). Input subsidies, cash constraints and timing of input supply. American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 96(1), 290–307.

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