Working Paper 50: Determinants of Smallholder Farmers’ Livelihood Trajectories: Evidence from Rural Malawi

Written by, Mirriam Matita, Ephraim Wadonda Chirwa, Stevier Kaiyatsa, Jacob Mazalale, Masautso Chimombo, Loveness Msofi Mgalamadzi and Blessings Chinsinga.

The authors of this paper attempt use quantitative methods to determine the different factors of livelihood trajectories in the context of agricultural commercialisation. To do this, they draw on primary evidence from household surveys conducted over a span of ten years in Mchinji and Ntchisi districts, in rural Malawi. The authors hypothesise that households that are more commercialised are more likely to expand their investments in agriculture and/or take up livelihoods outside of agriculture. Crucially, they find that factors driving livelihood trajectories are not the same for farmers in different pathways, and highlight the need for policymakers to study findings emphasise the need to adopt context-dependent development approaches, in order to provide sustainable relief from poverty for farming households.

Download document