Agricultural input subsidies have been adopted on a large scale across different African countries in the last few years. However global experience with input subsidies has been mixed, and there are concerns that current input subsidies are expensive political programmes with limited development benefits. An alternative view promotes new, ‘smart’ approaches in subsidies’ delivery and their potential to raise the productivity of millions of poor smallholder farmers and lift them out of poverty while promoting wider food security.
In 2005/6 the Malawi Government introduced a large scale national programme subsidising agricultural inputs, mainly fertilisers and seeds for maize production. The programme has attracted considerable controversy, seen by some as making a major ground-breaking contribution in addressing chronic food security problems in the country, but attracting criticism from others as an expensive programme consuming scarce government resources with limited benefit.
In this book Ephraim Chirwa and Andrew Dorward document findings from long running evaluation and research on the Malawi programme. This is set in the context of evolving understandings on agricultural input subsidy costs and benefits in different situations, of other African countries’ experience with similar programmes, and of Malawi’s particular history and situation. The story and conclusions are relevant to other countries which may be considering such programmes and to those seeking to better understand what the programme has and has not achieved in Malawi. It also presents critical perspectives on the post-independence history of agricultural politics and policies in Malawi.
Copies of the book will be available to purchase at the event.