Explore historical and projected climate data, climate data by sector, impacts, key vulnerabilities and what adaptation measures are being taken. Explore the overview for a general context of how climate change is affecting Malawi.

Impacts Agriculture

Agriculture is central to Malawi’s economy and is also the sector that will be most severely impacted by climate change. Maize production accounts for 52% of total agricultural crop area, 34% of the country's gross domestic product (GDP), and 85% of employment. Most of the agriculture in Malawi is rainfed subsistence agriculture, which leaves the population highly vulnerable to weather/climate shocks such as erratic rainfall and droughts. Industrial export crops grown by smallholders include cotton, rice, groundnuts, coffee, macadamia nuts, and tobacco. The main estate-grown crops are tobacco, coffee, tea, and sugar. Malawi is the second largest producer of tobacco in Africa. Agriculture also accounts for roughly 90% of the country’s export earnings, with tobacco alone accounting for 60%. Drought has already led to poor crop yields if not total crop failure, and resulting food shortages have worsened malnutrition. Continued reliance on the maize crop will restrict livelihood options for millions and exacerbate food insecurity over the long term. 

This section provides insights into the climate change impacts on agricultural productivity indicators and the trends in agriculture related socio-economic indicators.


Data presented under Historical Climate Conditions are reanalysis products derived from ERA5-Land data. ERA5-Land is a global land-surface dataset at 9 km resolution, consistent with atmospheric data from the ERA5 reanalysis from 1950 onward. Climate reanalyses combine past observations with models to generate consistent time series of multiple climate variables. They provide a comprehensive description of the observed climate as it has evolved during recent decades, on 3D grids at sub-daily intervals. 

This data has been collected, aggregated and processed by the Climate Resilience Cluster of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Earth Observation for Sustainable Development (EO4SD) initiative.

% change of crop yield projections
< -60% > 80%
« Click on the map to view site-specific crop data.