Does agricultural diversification build economic resilience to drought and flood? Evidence from poor households in Zambia

Shun Chonabayashi, Theepakorn Jithitikulchai & Yeqing Qu

The adverse effects of weather extremes produce widespread damage and cause severe alterations in the normal functioning of household agricultural production in Zambia. Extreme weather events such as floods and drought are expected to increase in intensity and frequency due to climate change. Coupled with high poverty levels and limited institutional capacity, the country is highly vulnerable to the impact of extreme events. We quantify the effects of economic diversification on agricultural productivity of poor farm households with a skew-normal regression approach while accounting for drought and flood shocks. Our analysis finds that economic diversification is a strategy to increase agricultural productivity and mitigate the adverse impact of droughts and floods on agricultural households. The results also support the country’s policies to encourage hybrid maize production and to provide crop seeds and fertiliser to poor farmers. This paper provides a framework to plan and inform interventions to enhance household economic resilience to weather shocks through agricultural diversification in Zambia and other countries.