African Journal of
Agricultural Research

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Agric. Res.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1991-637X
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJAR
  • Start Year: 2006
  • Published Articles: 6801

Full Length Research Paper

The perceived impact of climate change and variability on smallholder dairy production in northern Malawi

Victor Kasulo1*, Susan Chikagwa-Malunga2, Mizeck Chagunda3 and David Roberts3      
1Department of Forestry, Mzuzu University, Private Bag 201, Luwinga, Mzuzu 2, Malawi. 2Lunyangwa Research Station, P. O. Box 59, Mzuzu, Malawi. 3Sustainable Livestock Systems Group, SAC Research, King’s Buildings, West Mains Road, Edinburgh, EH9 3JG, Scotland, UK.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 21 August 2012
  •  Published: 04 September 2012


Farmers’ perception of climate change is very important for their adoption of adaptation strategies. This paper analyses dairy farmers’ perceptions of changes in rainfall patterns and its impact on dairy production in northern Malawi. Farmers’ perception was obtained through a survey and analysed using descriptive statistics, Chi-square test and a multi-nominal regression model. The accuracy of farmers’ perceptions was assessed with reference to actual rainfall data in the study area. The results revealed that majority (40%) of the respondents perceived that the amount of rainfall that the area had received over the past five years had increased. However, this was not supported by actual rainfall data. The farmers were also of the view that an increase in the amount of rainfall led to an increase in pasture production, water availability and milk production. Results from the multi-nominal regression model showed a strong relationship between milk production on one hand and water availability, and pasture production on the other. The results imply that dairy farmers in the study area do not perceive climate variability as an immediate problem and highlight the need to sensitize them about the current and projected changes in climate, their vulnerability and adaptation strategies.


Key words: Climate change and variability, dairy production, Malawi, multi-nominal regression, perception.