Political Economy and the Future of the Farm Input Subsidy Programme in Malawi

A presentation was made on 23 February 2012 about the Political Economy and Future of the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP) in Malawi. This presentation was made at an Agriculture Policy Dialogue, a forum convened by the Civil Society Agriculture Network (CISANET) whose aim it is to stimulate debate among government, donors and civil society agencies active in the agricultural sector, as a way of developing consensus on contentious issues in the agricultural sector. This particular event was attended by over 100 participants drawn from the three sectors.

The FISP is one such contentious issue in the agricultural sector in Malawi, especially concerning its long-term sustainability. While FISP’s success in terms of ensuring food security in Malawi is widely acknowledged, there are, however, concerns about its sustainability as well as whether its current design, implementation and management guarantees value for money. As FISP is highly politically sensitive programme, this presentation was therefore designed to instigate open and transparent debate about these issues which had been systematically avoided up until this time.

The presentation was very successful in putting contentious issues about the FISP on the table and triggering debate about them. The presentation has since been turned into a working paper that is being used as a background paper in one of the Technical Working Groups (TWGs) which have been constituted to help operationalise the CAADP in Malawi. This particular working group looks at one of the pillars of the Agricultural Sector Wide Approach (ASWAp) on food security and risk management.