School of Earth and Environment

Chloe Sutcliffe Chloe Sutcliffe

Postgraduate Student

Telephone number: +44(0) 113 34 39085
Email address:
Room: 9.127


Project details

Project Title: Cultivar adoption as a strategy for adapting to climate change: maize variety selection and cultivation amongst small-scale farmers in Malawi

Supervisors: Professor Andy Dougill, Dr Claire Quinn and Dr Evan Fraser

Funding: CCCEP

Start date: 1st October 2009

Project Outline

Climate change is predicted to have strong negative impacts on the productivity of maize crops in most regions of Malawi, and across Africa. A key strategy for enabling agriculture to withstand the meteorological effects of climate change is sought in the development of enhanced crop varieties through conventional and genetic breeding techniques. Post-development, the efficacy of these new varieties hangs on the issue of whether farmers are able to optimally assimilate them into their farming practice.

My project seeks to investigate the role that modern, climate-resilient varieties of maize could play in assisting adaptation to climate change amongst small-scale farmers in Malawi through an assessment of current maize cultivation habits and the preferences and perceptions of stakeholders regarding climate change and strategies for achieving food security. Using qualitative and quantitative social research methods, fieldwork for the project is being conducted in two regions of Malawi with widely different climate-related productive capacities for maize. A comparison between these two areas will yield insight into the different strategies for maize cultivation that farmers adopt in response to a range of social, environmental and economic pressures and in coping with some of the meteorological effects that are likely to be associated with climate change.

In addition, my project seeks to compare stakeholders' perceptions of the weather with official meteorological records in order to explore similarities and differences between the two and thereby analyse the role of climate perception within decisions to adapt.


  • BSocSc Social Anthropology at the University of Manchester
  • MSc Anthropology and Ecology of Development at UCL

Demonstrating and Teaching

  • SOEE2401 People and Plants
  • SOEE1180 Ecology and Environment