The meeting brought together over 100 participants from Non Governmental Organisations, government agencies and donor community. The main purpose was to chart out the possible future of the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP) from a political economy perspective, drawing from the wealth of policy lessons and experiences accumulated from over six years of implementing FISP. The anticipated outcome of the dialogue was, at the very least, recognition that FISP would remain an important part of the country’s agricultural policy but that there is urgent need to address some of the challenges that undermine its design, implementation and management.
While not disputing the key concerns raised about FISP in its current shape, government officials were very defensive of FISP arguing that the extent of the challenges should not be exaggerated. They emphasised the need to be proud of the fact that FISP has enabled the country to feed itself. This merely confirmed the political sensitivity and centrality of the question of food security in the country’s political economy.
The major outcome of the policy dialogue was that it has instigated open and reflective public debate about the design, implementation and management of FISP, which was previously essentially limited to private and informal discussions and debates.
Policy Brief: Seeds and Subsidies
A recent Policy Brief examines the political economy of seed support in Malawi in more detail.