This is an open access title available under the terms of a CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 International licence. It is free to read at Oxford Scholarship Online and offered as a free PDF download from OUP and selected open access locations. 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,.
Ephraim Chirwa is Professor of Economics at Chancellor College, University of Malawi. He graduated from the University of Malawi in 1989. He holds an MPhil in Economics awarded by the University of Cambridge in 1991. In 1993, he joined the Department of Economics at Chancellor College, University of Malawi as lecturer in economics. He completed his PhD in Economics at the University of East Anglia in 2000. Over the last 20 years he has undertaken research on various aspects of the Malawian economy, particularly on agricultural reforms, farming systems, and smallholder farmer organisations. He has collaborated with Andrew Dorward on a number of research projects including the ongoing evaluations of the Farm Input Subsidy Programme in Malawi since 2006. Andrew Dorward is Professor of Development Economics at SOAS, University of London, where he led the Centre for Development, Environment and Policy from 2005 to 2011. After reading Agriculture and Forest Sciences at Oxford he worked in an agricultural development programme for the Malawi Government, initially as an Overseas Development Fellow, before completing a PhD at the University of Reading on smallholder farming in northern Malawi. He then worked in agricultural development and in development management training in Ethiopia and Swaziland before returning to lecture and undertake research at Wye College, University of London. Over the last 20 years he has researched and written widely on smallholder agricultural development, with a primarily African focus, although he has also worked in Latin America and Asia. From 2006 he and Ephraim Chirwa have led ongoing evaluations of the Malawi Farm Input Subsidy Programme for the Malawi and British Governments.
PART I: BACKGROUND; PART II: IMPLEMENTATION AND IMPACTS OF THE MALAWI PROGRAMME; PART III: STRATEGIC ISSUES