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Policy Briefs

Assessing Alternatives to Tobacco Farming for Smallholders in Malawi

May 31, 2021

We assess the profitability of Malawian tobacco and potential alternatives. Over the past 10 years the share of smallholders growing tobacco has declined from 16% to just 5%. Improving value chains for alternative crops is likely more cost-effective than moving the few remaining smallholders out of tobacco.

Trends in Tobacco Production and Prices in Malawi

May 6, 2021

Diversification away from tobacco production is regarded as a priority for Malawi. This paper characterizes broad trends in production since 2000 in order to understand whether Malawi is shifting away from tobacco and how production and the prices received by farmers have changed over time.

Exploring Adoption Effects of Subsidies and Soil Fertility Management in Malawi

May 3, 2021

Malawi has implemented input subsidies for decades, yet key crop yields remain low. Low crop response to subsidized inputs is partly attributable to poor soil health and low adoption of soil and water conservation. This brief examines joint adoption of subsidized fertilizer and other fertility management practices.

Lessons Learnt: Promises, Achievements, Shortcomings and Pitfalls of Malawian Input Subsidies

April 12, 2021

Malawian governments have spent substantial resources on agricultural input subsidies over the years. While achievements can be celebrated, improvements could be made to increase the impact of money spent on subsidies. We highlight successes, factors hindering impact, and  options for improving subsidies.

Food Imports in Malawi: Trends, Drivers, and Policy Implications

January 29, 2021

Malawi has huge agricultural potential but, Malawi's food demand outpaces domestic production, making the nation a heavy net food importer. Drawing on several data sources, this paper provides an in-depth analysis of food import trends and their drivers, and explores policy options for shifting the trade balance.

Manufacturing and Industrialization in Malawi: Trends, Opportunities, and Strategies

October 21, 2020

We review experiences from other fast-growing economies in sub-Saharan Africa and newly industrialized economies in East Asia to draw out lessons for Malawi’s industrialization strategy to promote employment, wealth creation, and reduced economic vulnerabilities associated with primary agricultural products.

An Early Assessment of the Impact of COVID-19 in Malawi

September 23, 2020

The COVID-19 crisis has impacted every facet of Malawi's agricultural value chains. We present and evaluate new data from across the spectrum to begin to allow policy makers to make decisions with information on how the country has been affected and discuss the importance of continued monitoring.

August 27, 2020

This study investigates the causes of challenges in programs, policies and strategies implementation in agricultural sector and draw lessons that can inform the ministries responsible for agriculture and rural development address these challenges.

The Future of Smallholder Farming in Malawi

August 26, 2020

The brief characterizes smallholder farming in Malawi, projects the consequences of a ‘business as usual’ strategy and identifies promising government strategies to support smallholder livelihoods and contribute to wealth creation.

July 7, 2020

This brief seeks to 1) highlight the urgent need for change in Malawi’s economic management and performance, 2) highlight policy interventions that Malawi could adopt to achieve significant economic development, and 3) address the question of how the necessary transformation may be brought about.

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