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

First release: April 12, 2021

Malawian governments have spent substantial resources on agricultural input subsidies over the years. While achievements can be celebrated, early enthusiasm has begun to wane in the face of underwhelming performance in several key areas. Maize productivity increases have been lower than many expected, and the incidence of poverty has not substantially changed since the introduction of the Farm Inputs Support Program, the current scheme's immediate predecessor. As the current government revises agricultural subsidies, improvements could be made to increase their impact. To help guide this effort, this analysis highlights successes, factors hindering impact, and  options for improving the current Affordable Inputs Program.

Following an earlier Brief of the same name, this Working Paper examines the issue in greater depth and adds an important discussion of the opportunity costs of Malawi's input subsidies


A fertilized field in Malawi (right) outperforms an unfertilized field (left), but more could be done to achieve food security.

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Christone Nyondo


Lemekezani Chilora

Julius Mangisoni

Makaiko Khonje

William J. Burke

Jacob Ricker-Gilbert

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