MaSSP Report: The state of agricultural extension and advisory services provision in Malawi

 

Photo credit: M.Mitchell/IFPRI, Malawi field visit 2016

Photo credit: M.Mitchell/IFPRI, Malawi field visit 2016

Though Malawi has made some recent progress in increasing agricultural production and economic growth as well as reducing food insecurity, undernutrition and food insecurity remain widespread with 37 percent of children under five being stunted according to the 2015/16 Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) and 6.7 million people estimated to be in need of food assistance in the 2016/17 crop year (MoAIWD 2016).

This necessitates bold actions to revisit the design and implementation of the government’s flagship agricultural program, the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP) and, at the same time, rethink and strengthen other critical complementary services and systems, such as agricultural extension services.

A newly published MaSSP technical report aims at providing an assessment of the state of agricultural extension and advisory services provision in Malawi in order to inform policy and reform processes and programming by the government and donors. These studies are in response to the request by the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development (MoAIWD) to look closely at the state of extension services provision with the intent to further strengthen the contribution such services make to food security, economic growth, and achieving sustainable development goals.

The IFPRI report summarizes key findings based on responses from household and community surveys conducted in Malawi between August and October 2016 that focused on the demand side of agricultural extension service provision and access to those services. Nationally-representative samples of 3001 households and 299 communities in all districts of Malawi, except Likoma, were interviewed for the study.

Among its findings, the study found that the performance of lead farmers seems to depend on how active and motivated the Agricultural Extension Development Officer (AEDO) or NGO extension worker is. In general, if the AEDO is active in the community—mainly because there is a project or is otherwise personally motivated to do so—lead farmers are also more active. Otherwise, lead farmers are not active in training neighboring farmers on the use of technologies that they were trained to promote.

* This report was co-authored by Catherine Ragasa and Chiyu Niu.

The state of agricultural extension and advisory services provision in Malawi: Insights from household and community surveys [link to download complete report]