Expanding the adaptive capacity of cotton-producing smallholders to cope with (un)expected climate and market variability in southern Mali
This research was done in southern Mali to understand and support the ability of smallholders to cope with variation in weather and economic conditions to sustain their livelihoods. I found that farmers produced cotton and cereals for several reasons, including to diversify the sources and timing of income, to secure access to credit and agrochemicals and to strike a balance between the security and flexibility. Farms of different resources were equally exposed to weather change, but with different sensitivity and adaptive capacity. A “cotton crisis” induced by the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in large reduction of cotton area with limited access to fertilizer inputs without negative effect on the yields of cereals and food self-sufficiency, with different implications for farms of different resources. Lastly, I developed a farm management approach and a support tool for informed decision-making to cope with unanticipated circumstances.