The Malawi Agricultural Input Subsidy Programme (MAISP) which started in 2005/06 targeting smallholder farmers through a voucher programme has benefited from periodic evaluation and research conducted by FAC researchers Ephraim Chirwa and Andrew Dorward and other members of the Social Protection team.
The research results have informed policy makers in Malawi in introducing various changes in the implementation of the programme. Some of the notable changes in the MAISP that have drawn from the research results include improvements in the timing of critical stages in the implementation of various critical activities, greater attention given to targeting of most vulnerable groups and poor regions, focus of the subsidy on maize production and exclusion of cash crops such as tobacco and tea, and greater control of costs of the programme. In the Medium Term Plan for the MAISP (2010-2016) devised by the Government of Malawi there is extensive use of research results from work done by FAC researchers.
Informing civil society
FAC work on the MAISP has also led to greater collaboration between civil society organisations (CSOs) in Malawi and FAC researchers. CSOs interested in agricultural development and food security have looked to FAC research outputs as critical in their policy dialogue with policy makers and different stakeholders. For example, the joint work between FAC researchers and the Civil Society Agriculture Network (CISANET) of Malawi on lessons drawn from research on the input subsidy programme which has been used to lobby for changes to the MAISP through presentations to the Ministry of Agriculture and the Parliamentary Committee on Agricultural and Natural Resources.
In the words of Tamani Nkhono-Mvula, the National Coordinator of CISANET: “Future Agricultures’ work on the [MAISP] has made us realise that we need to concentrate on advocacy and promoting policy dialogue with government, where we have the comparative advantage and capacity, on the back of research conducted by FAC researchers and others.”