Heterogeneous preferences and the effects of incentives in promoting conservation agriculture in Malawi

Patrick S. Ward, Andrew R. Bell, Gregory M. Parkhurst, Klaus Droppelmann, Lawrence Mapemba

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    There is a great deal of interest in increasing food security through the sustainable intensification of food production in developing countries around the world. One such approach is through Conservation Agriculture (CA), which improves soil quality through a suite of farming practices that reduce soil disturbance, increase soil cover through retained crop residues, and increase crop diversification. We use discrete choice experiments to study farmers' preferences for these different CA practices, and assess willingness to adopt CA. Despite many long-term agronomic benefits, some farmers are not willing to adopt CA without incentives. Our results suggest that farmers perceive that CA practices interact with one another differently, sometimes complementing and sometimes degrading the benefits of the other practices. But our results also indicate that preferences are a function of experiences with CA, such that current farm level practices influence willingness to adopt the full CA package. Further, exposure to various risks such as flooding and insect infestations often constrains adoption. Providing subsidies can increase likely adoption of a full CA package, but may generate some perverse incentives that can result in subsequent disadoption.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)67-79
    Number of pages13
    JournalAgriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
    StatePublished - Apr 15 2016


    • Conservation agriculture
    • Discrete choice experiments
    • Malawi
    • Technology adoption

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Ecology
    • Animal Science and Zoology
    • Agronomy and Crop Science


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