Input Subsidies, Household Welfare, and Sustainable Land Use

This blog focuses on our recent research in Malawi on the Input Subsidy Program and Its Impacts. We have collected detailed panel data from farm households in 6 districts in central and southern Malawi in 2006, 2007 and 2009 and use these in our analyses. The research was funded by NORAD and the Norwegian Embassy in Malawi and data were collected by a group of students in our Master Program in Development and Natural Resource Economics

Does the introduction of cheap fertilizers crowd out organic manure?

Field work in MalawiPosted by Stein Holden Sun, September 05, 2010 20:05:10
For the decisions to use fertilizer and manure on plots it was found that these inputs are mostly used as complementary inputs and not as substitutes when we analyze all plots together. When analyzing maize plots alone, the use of fertilizer and manure were not significantly associated. There seems therefore to be little reason to fear that input subsidies crowd out the use of manure. The main problem is that the use of manure is limited as a large share of the plots did not receive manure. However, use of organic manure is expanding, probably due to the extension efforts and increasing emphasis on conservation agriculture methods also linked to the fertilizer subsidy program. Households that did not receive subsidized fertilizers were less likely to use fertilizer on their plots but there was no effect on manure application on maize plots.

The intensity of use of fertilizer and manure was also positively correlated when analyzing all plots but not so for maize plots. Access to subsidized fertilizer enhanced fertilizer use intensity on maize plots. Use of hybrid maize was positively associated with higher fertilizer use intensity as well as manure use intensity. Both fertilizer use intensity and manure use intensity increased from 2006 to 2009. Fertilizer use intensities were significantly higher in Thyolo and Zomba districts than in the other districts.

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