Policy Note 26: Under what policy and market conditions will Malawi’s smallholder farmers switch from tobacco to soyabean?

weeding a soyabean field. Source: Mitchell Maher (IFPRI), 2016

Malawi has the potential to reorient its smallholder agriculture away from being primarily directed towards assuring household subsistence and self-sufficiency to increased commercial production, including of soybean. This study shows how this shift would reduce the country’s reliance on tobacco and diversify its agricultural production and exports. As a legume, furthermore, soybean would also have the additional benefit of improving soil health, through biological nitrogen fixation and crop rotations, and child nutrition, if the nutritious soybean is consumed at home or increased income from soybean sales is used to provide children with more diverse and healthier diets. But this reorientation will require that government creates the conditions for private sector to invest in the increased production of soyabean, both through the support of input loan packages and a more stable marketing environment for the crop.

By: Michael Johnson, Brent Edelman and Cynthia Kazembe

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