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Working Papers

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The Potential for Mega-Farms to Transform Malawian Agriculture

August 30, 2022

The government has committed to transforming Malawian agriculture through mega-farms. Other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa offer lessons on the performance of large farms and their impacts on surrounding smaller farms. Key players in Malawi also offer insights on the role of mega-farms.

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Sustainable Intensification in Jeopardy: Transdisciplinary Evidence from Malawi

November 11, 2021

This study uncovers disturbing trends that indicate intensification and sustainability are at risk in Malawi. Two time-series of satellite data and combined results of several farmer survey-based analyses that span decades suggest declining land and fertilizer productivity, emphasizing the need for a new strategy.

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Does Subsidizing Legume Seeds Improve Farm Productivity and Nutrition in Malawi?

September 8, 2021

We address this knowledge gap by testing whether subsidizing legume seeds improves farm productivity, dietary quality, and child nutrition. Results suggest legume subsidies can increase the overall gross value of production, dietary diversity, weight-for-age Z scores, and calorie, vitamin A  and zinc consumption.

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September 7, 2021

Malawian governments have spent substantial resources on agricultural input subsidies over the years.  We highlight successes, factors hindering impact, implicit costs and  options for improving subsidies.

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A Rapid Assessment of the Implementation of the 2020/21 Affordable Inputs Program in Malawi

June 1, 2021

The 2020/21 AIP reached 4 times as many farmers as did FISP in 2019/20 and used innovative delivery mechanisms. However, numerous major challenges led to delays in availability and other problems. Using data collected in December 2020, we take a critical look at the AIP and offer a path to improvements.

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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

April 14, 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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Food Imports in Malawi: Trends, Drivers, and Policy Implications

January 5, 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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The Past, Present, and Future of Land Use in Malawi: A Background Review

November 24, 2020

The history of land use, ownership, and development in Malawi is traced from the colonial era to the present. Juxtaposing challenges faced by estate holders and smallholders highlights potential for mutually beneficial partnerships. Examples of land use schemes are probed to explore options for Malawi.

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

October 8, 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 16, 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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Unlocking Implementation Challenges: Lessons from the Agricultural Sector

August 20, 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 4, 2020

The study 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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Agricultural Transformation in Malawi: A Call to Action

July 7, 2020

This paper 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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Farm Level Analysis of the Impact of COVID19 on Agrifood Systems in Malawi 

July 7, 2020

Nearly 300 farmers were interviewed to assess the impact of COVID-19 and the Government efforts to combat the disease on agricultural production and marketing during the 2019-2020 agricultural season. Farmers were also asked how they expect the effects will last into the 2020-2021 season.

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