||A better understanding of processes that shape farmers’ adaptation to climate change is critical to identify vulnerable entities and to develop well-targeted adaptation policies. However, it is currently poorly understood what determines farmers’ adaptation and how to measure it. In this study, we develop an activity-based adaptation index (AAI) and explore the relationship between socioeconomic variables and farmers’ adaptation behavior by means of an explanatory factor analysis and a multiple linear regression model using latent variables. The model was tested in six villages situated in two administrative wards in the Morogoro region of Tanzania. The Mlali ward represents a system of relatively high agricultural potential, whereas the Gairo ward represents a system of low agricultural potential. A household survey, a rapid rural appraisal and, a stakeholder workshop were used for data collection. The data were analyzed using factor analysis, multiple linear regression, descriptive statistical methods and qualitative content analysis. The empirical results are discussed in the context of theoretical concepts of adaptation and the sustainable livelihood approach. We found that public investment in rural infrastructure, in the availability and technically efficient use of inputs, in a good education system that provides equal chances for women, and in the strengthening of social capital, agricultural extension and, microcredit services are the best means of improving the adaptation of the farmers from the six villages in Gairo and Mlali. We conclude that the newly developed AAI is a simple but promising way to capture the complexity of adaptation processes that addresses a number of shortcomings of previous index studies.