New book: Agricultural input subsidies and Malawi


Agricultural input subsidies have been adopted on a large scale across different African countries in the last few years.

A new book, Agricultural Input Subsidies: the Recent Malawi Experience, by Ephraim Chirwa and Andrew Dorward, examines the benefits and risks of these programmes. It also looks at Malawi in detail, exploring the history of subsidies there, current implementation and impacts, and political and technical issues in success or failure.

Book launch: London, May 2014

The book was launched at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London on 29 May. The speakers included Professor Andrew Dorward, Professor of Development Economics, SOAS; His Excellency Bernard Sande, Malawi High Commissioner; Dr Zoltan Tiba, Oxford Policy Management; Dr Steve Wiggins, Research Fellow, Overseas Development Institute (ODI); and Dr Christone Nyondo, Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Malawi. The chair was Professor Thandika Mkandawire, Professor of African Development, Department of International Development, LSE.

You can listen to the event via the audio stream below:

Agricultural Input Subsidies: The Recent Malawi Experience by Royafrisoc on Mixcloud

About the book

Agricultural input subsidies have been adopted on a large scale across different African countries in the last few years. However global experience with input subsidies has been mixed, and there is considerable concern that current input subsidies will turn out to be expensive political programmes with very limited development benefits. There is, however, also considerable enthusiasm for new, ‘smart’ approaches in subsidies’ delivery and for their potential to raise the productivity of millions of poor smallholder farmers and lift them out of poverty while promoting wider food security.

This book takes forward our understanding of agricultural input subsidies in low income countries. A review and extension of current thinking on the potential roles of such subsidies provides the basis for a broad examination of recent documented experience in different African countries and then for: a detailed examination of Malawi’s current agricultural input subsidy programme, the main focus of the book. This large programme has been the subject a very considerable international debate, much of it unfortunately little informed by the substantial amount of information available on the programme. Drawing on their extensive involvement with the programme over many years and on a wide range of information sources, the authors provide a detailed analysis of the historical, political and agro-economic roots and context of the programme, and its implementation and impacts from 2005 to 2011. Of interest in its own right, this also provides critical insights into the potential benefits and risks with such programmes, and on political and technical issues that are critical in success or failure.

Agricultural Input Subsidies: The Recent Malawi Experience

by Ephraim Chirwa and Andrew Dorward
Oxford University Press
September 2013

Price: £55 (open access version available)