The Future of Smallholder Farming in Malawi

First release: August 4, 2020

Milu Muyanga, Zephania Nyirenda, Yanganani Lifeyo & William J. Burke

This paper highlights the key challenges facing agricultural growth and identifies strategies to achieve inclusive agricultural transformation in Malawi. Malawi faces significant challenges: farms are small, the amount of unused arable land is shrinking and the population is growing. But agriculture will need to be the engine of economic growth. Fortunately, there is ample evidence on ways to avoid the grim Malthusian trap where ʻbusiness as usualʼ may be leading. The greatest return on investment for agricultural productivity growth come from research and development, education, and infrastructure. Shoring up land rights will also be important, as will providing an open, fair and predictable policy environment. The future of smallholder farming in Malawi is not pre-determined, but where the nation is heading depends on the willingness and capacity of policy makers and researchers to learn from experiences, for strategies to evolve, and on decisive action today.

More than maize: Thinking from policy makers, researchers and farmers can evolve to improve Malawi's future.

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