First release: March 9, 2022
Malawi is arguably the world's most tobacco dependent economy. Sales of the crop account for 50% of the nation's total export value. However, recent research indicates that the percentage of smallholders growing tobacco declined from 16% of the population in 2009/10 to 5% in 2018/18. This decline followed the global trend in tobacco prices which peaked in 2009/10 but retreated to their longer run average by 2018/19. In this Brief, the authors investigate the distributional impacts of smallholder tobacco cultivation in Malawi - who has grown, who is still growing, and their relative wealth. The declining share of farmers still producing tend to be relatively well-off and more productive. This has implications for the nation's diversification strategies.
A farmer appreciating the quality of the tobacco leaves