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Policy Briefs

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Economic Viability of Small-Scale Aquaculture in Malawi

April 13, 2022

Small-scale aquaculture in Malawi is profitable, despite the challenges faced by fish farmers. There is potential to further profitabilty by improving the feed and fingerling production, identifying lower cost alternative feeds (such as insects), and investing in aquaculture extension.

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Cyclone Ana Impacts on Livelihoods and Agricultural Systems: Experiences and Voices from Chikwawa and Nsanje Districts

April 13, 2022

With many households losing homes and property, swift humanitarian support is needed for flood victims. Quick access to  agricultural production inputs, especially seeds, will allow farmers to take advantage of the dimba season and alluvial deposits from the floods, mitigating some of the deleterious impacts of Ana.

Characteristics of the Small-Scale Aquaculture Sector in Malawi

March 31, 2022

We describe the small-scale aquaculture sector in Malawi using  updated comprehensive data  from a survey of fish farms across the country. The brief presents an overview of fish farm and farmer characteristics, farm management, input usage, production ,and marketing in the country.

How Russia's Invasion of Ukraine Will Affect the Food Security Situation in Malawi: Implications for Malawian Policy Response

March 30, 2022

The conflict between Russia and Ukraine is very likely to have an impact on Malawi that could be detrimental. Fuel, food, and fertilizer prices are likely to rise, but steps can be taken to soften the effects.

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Opportunities for Small-Scale Aquaculture in Malawi

March 10, 2022

Small-scale aquaculture could contribute to improving rural livelihoods, but fish farmers are impeded by poor access to inputs like feed and fingerlings, and output markets. Promising areas for investment are highlighted in this Brief, based on an extensive new survey conducted in Malawi in 2021.

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Distributional Impacts of Tobacco Cultivation in Malawi

March 9, 2022

This brief investigates 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.

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Redesigning the Affordable Inputs Program to Diversify and Sustain Growth

February 8, 2022

The State President has suggested the need to redesign Malawi's agricultural productivity strategy that is currently centered primarily on fertilizer subsidies. This brief lays out evidence-based suggestions to accomplish this with short-, medium-, and long-term policy changes. Extension and infrastructure are key.

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Policy Options for Smart Subsidies in Malawi

January 31, 2022

This Brief, prepared by MwAPATA and the International Food Policy Research Institute, examines alternative strategies to promote agricultural growth and alleviate poverty. The authors emphasize raising returns to fertilizer use and discuss how cash transfers could improve food security and resilience.  

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The 2020/21 Affordable Inputs Program: Key Implementation Issues and Messages

October 10, 2021

Three Institutions - MwAPATA, the Policy Support for Agricultural Transformation Project, and the European Union Delegation in Malawi - undertook independent assessments of the inaugural year of the AIP. This brief synthesizes these to highlight consistently noted successes and challenges.

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The Inorganic Fertilizer Price Surge in 2021: Key Drivers and Policy Options

August 27, 2021

Retail prices for commonly used fertilizers have steeply risen in recent months. In this brief we break down the drivers and estimate that at least 90% of the increases can be attributed to changes in global markets for food, fuel, and fertilizer. Policy action requires difficult choices on how to distribute this imposed burden.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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