The Role of the Private Sector in the Farm Input Subsidy Programme in Malawi

Future Agricultures Working Paper 64
Ephraim Chirwa and Andrew Dorward
June 2013

The involvement of the private sector in the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP) has changed over the lifetime of the programme with increasing participation in fertilizer procurement, inclusion and exclusion in fertiliser retail sales, increased participation in seed sales and increased participation in the transportation of fertilisers to various outlets in Malawi. This paper documents changes in private sector involvement in various aspects of the programme since 2005/06 and identifies benefits and challenges of participation of the private sector in the implementation of the programme.

The paper reviews the experience of private sector participation using data from the Logistics Unit and household and community surveys conducted in the 2006/07, 2008/09 and 2010/11 agricultural seasons. The analysis shows that commercial sales of fertilisers, although lower than the pre-subsidy levels, have been increasing suggesting that the programme has in the medium term stimulated demand for fertilisers in Malawi. This has occurred at a time when the private sector has increasingly participated in the procurement of subsidy fertiliser but has been excluded from retailing of subsidy fertilisers. The seed component of the subsidy programme, which has always involved the private sector, has attracted additional seed growers and expanded the number of varieties for maize seeds and legumes.


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