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

Towards more climate robust conservation agriculture in Malawi

Field work in MalawiPosted by Stein Holden Sun, September 05, 2010 20:38:28

The Achilles heel of the current agricultural policy is that maize is vulnerable to drought. We have analyzed data from three years with the input subsidy program where all the years were favored with good rainfall. Our data cannot therefore say so much about what the effects of a severe drought would be but the trends in the data over time may also illustrate a period of recovery after several years with unfavorable weather. The Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security now tries to reduce the vulnerability by expanding the extent of a conservation agriculture that is more robust to climatic variability. This involves use of more legumes, intercropping, organic manure, reduced tillage, herbicides, and agroforestry. Such changes in the production system should be stimulated at a broad scale as e.g. organic manure is still used by a small share of the households and many lack the knowledge of how to make organic manure from crop residues and green leaves. More use of Nitrogen-fixing crops and agroforestry trees may also reduce the need for importation of inorganic Nitrogen fertilizers and improve the soil quality. The ADP-SP program under ASWAp, among others, can contribute to the development of more sustainable, climate robust and cost-effective production systems that provide food security and cash incomes for the future generations. This should also reduce the need for imported inorganic Nitrogen fertilizers and also should reduce the risk of soil acidification due to excessive use of acidifying Nitrogen fertilizers.

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