Growth, Poverty and Nutrition Linkages and the Role of FISP

Photo Credit: ILRI/Mann

Photo Credit: ILRI/Mann

Since its inception in 2005/06 Malawi’s Farm Input Subsidy Program (FISP) has been at the center of national and global interest. After its initial success in transforming Malawi from a food insecure country to a surplus producer of maize, many African countries have followed suit, modeling their own input subsidy programs on the FISP. However, in recent years FISP’s effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability has been fiercely debated within Malawi and among development practitioners and researchers globally. Over the years MaSSP has actively followed and engaged in this debate. Our most recent FISP-related studies were presented at a dissemination workshop in Lilongwe on Wednesday 9 April 2014.

Specifically evidence was presented at the seminar related to the growth, poverty and nutrition implications of the FISP. Results suggested that FISP seems to have had a positive impact on maize production, which in turn generated significant economywide spillover effects often not captured in evaluation studies. Moreover, FISP may have had a more pronounced effect on poverty as earlier thought, with new analysis suggesting, contrary to official estimates, that rural poverty may have in fact declined significantly. Preliminary results suggests less promising results for nutrition outcomes, broadly speaking. Together, the presentations sparked lively discussions of the strengths and weaknesses of the FISP and the need to use this evidence to feed into a thoughtful strategy for maximizing the program’s effectiveness.

While many of the studies are in preliminary phases and published reports are not available for dissemination, the presentation slides are listed below, and two related MaSSP Policy Notes are available for download; The Challenge of Africa’s Nitrogen Drought: some indicators from the Malawian Experience and Malawi’s Farm Input Subsidy Program: Where do we go from here?