FSP Research Paper 17: Crop suitability maps and an agricultural zonation scheme for Malawi

mw_dev_domains_0Although relatively small, Malawi is a country with significant agro-ecological diversity.  In consequence, generations of Malawian farmers have developed a variety of quite complex farming systems to exploit distinct combinations of local agricultural resources. An important implication of this variety of farming systems is that the comparative advantage of different areas of Malawi for the production of different crops, livestock, and other agricultural products will differ significantly from place to place.
In consequence, any agriculture program or plan that involves a single technical approach nationwide will fail in many places. In designing agricultural development policies and programs for the country, the geographic diversity of Malawian agriculture needs to be taken into consideration. In order guide agricultural policy given this complexity, this report undertakes detailed spatial analysis in Malawi.

Working with the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Water Development, staff of the New Alliance Policy Acceleration Support-Malawi (NAPAS:Malawi) project have developed a two-level agricultural zonation scheme to guide agricultural planning that takes into account this agro-ecological diversity in Malawi, published by the Food Security Innovation Lab. The research paper, entitled "Detailed crop suitability maps and an agricultural zonation scheme for Malawi: Spatial information for agricultural planning purposes," combines broad agricultural development domains – based upon a district-level analysis of agro-ecological potential; physical access to market; and population density – with an extensive set of detailed, more locally relevant crop suitability maps to determine where agricultural development investments might best be located within a relevant development domain. A document detailing the agricultural zonation scheme report is now available online.

By Todd Benson, Arthur Mabiso and Flora Nankhuni

Click here to download report without annex maps (for slow internet), or click here to download full report.