Impact of agricultural policies on crop productivity and food security in Malawi, 1964-2014

Henry Hunga, Richard Culas

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Malawi agriculture has undergone various policy regimes targeted at improving productivity and food self-sufficiency. Policy influence has often come from the World Bank and other donors who have pushed for a costly and state minimalist policy, against government wish for a welfarist approach. This situation has created a long-standing schism between the Bank and Government since the signing of the first SAP loan in 1981, thus affecting implementation of agricultural policies. This has resulted in food market reforms being partial and often reversed, with state marketing boards still playing a major role. These have created instability in maize prices and stocks in the national strategic grain reserve, often resulting in food crises and putting into question the achievements of the farm input subsidy program in achieving food security. This paper analyses the impact of Malawi agricultural policies on crop productivity over the past fifty years (1964-2014) and the resulting food security status of the country by drawing on national level data. This is confounded by the fact that up to 38% of Malawians still do not get adequate food supplies and the percentage of stunted children is high at 42.4%. Dietary diversification, improved research and technology development and transfer, upscaling of irrigation and policy consistency are critical to achieving national and household food security. Equally, development and empowerment of the private sector is the panacea for a strong maize marketing system that would deliver stable supply and pricing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-199
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Journal of Food and Agricultural Economics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019


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