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Grantees Profile

Sarobidy Rakotonarivo

Country (Nationality)


Grantee Title

Project: An experimental approach to optimizing policy for scaling-up climate-smart agriculture (CSA) in Madagascar.

Grantee Description

Country of nationality:


Research area:

Nature-based climate solutions

Host Organisation & country:

École Supérieure des Sciences Agronomiques, (ESSA-Forêts), Madagascar


Food insecurity is still a growing concern in most African countries. Most African farmers rely on slash and burn cultivation or rainfed agriculture which makes them especially vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change and leads to land degradation and deforestation. Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) such as agroforestry which is the integration of trees into crops can be part of the solution, but adoption remains very low because of several constraints such as high upfront costs and lack of access to information. Dr Rakotonarivo’s project aims to address these constraints by identifying the most effective policy levers for upscaling CSA in Madagascar using an experimental approach (randomized controlled trial and experimental games).

Grantee Description

Dr Rakotonarivo is a research fellow at the Department of Forestry and Environment at the University of Antananarivo in Madagascar. She earned a joint PhD degree in Environmental and Development economics from Bangor university and the University of Copenhagen in 2016.

Her research interests lie in the areas of nature-climate interventions in Africa (e.g., forest conservation, restoration, and climate-smart agriculture). She uses a mixed method approach (e.g., quasi-experimental methods and qualitative interviews) to study the political and socio-ecological factors that increase their effectiveness. By identifying what works (and what doesn't) and under what conditions, her research aims to support the design of policies that contribute to the long-term wellbeing of people and nature.  She also has a demonstrated track record of supporting evidence-based policy and working in multistakeholder engagement.

Project: An experimental approach to optimizing policy for scaling-up climate-smart agriculture (CSA) in Madagascar.

Agriculture accounts for nearly a quarter of GDP in Africa and is the sector of the economy that is the most vulnerable to climate change. Large-scale land restoration is a key pillar of CSA upscaling, but the current pace of transformation is too slow. There is an urgent need to provide policy makers with empirical evidence on the most effective levers for CSA investments. This project aims to fill such knowledge gap in four novel ways. First, we will run novel and dynamic interactive games to understand any potential disincentives to CSA investments (e.g., risk aversion and unwillingness to engage in collective action). Second, we will undertake one of the first field evaluations (a randomized controlled trial) of the causal effects of unconditional cash transfers and information campaigns combined with targeted training on CSA adoption rate. The game outputs will inform the RCT design and outcomes by examining any potentially confounding mechanism of (non)adoption. Third, this project addresses the underlying mechanisms driving CSA adoption by examining the importance of changes in perceptions of land tenure security, risks, and the CSA practice in explaining the treatment effects. Fourth, the use of unstructured interviews will provide in-depth insights on the conditions and moderating factors that most strongly incentivize CSA adoption. Our mixed-method approach will enable us to isolate the relative importance of credit and increased knowledge in overcoming kinetic hurdles to CSA adoption, across heterogeneity in risk tolerance and perceptions. The findings will ultimately allow targeted investments in CSA in Madagascar and in rainfed Sub-Saharan Africa.