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

First release: September 8, 2021

Although input subsidies are a popular policy intervention in Malawi, it remains unknown whether they improve productivity of nutrient-dense crops such as legumes, dietary quality, and child nutrition. This study addresses this important gap by examining these questions empirically using a decade-long nationally representative panel data set and panel regression models.

We find that subsidizing legume seeds increases area planted with legume crops, overall gross value of production, production and dietary diversity, calories, and micronutrient—vitamin A and zinc—consumption. We further found that subsidizing legume seeds is positively correlated with child weight-for-age Z-score but not height-for-age Z-score.

Soya bean seeds have been subsidized in Malawi in the past, but the future of these supports is uncertain. 

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Makaiko Khonje

Christone Nyondo

Julius H. Mangisoni

Jacob Ricker-Gilbert

William Chadza

Milu Muyanga

William J. Burke