How diversified is cropping in Malawi? Patterns, determinants and policy implications

Micro- and macroeconomic evidence suggest that the promotion of agricultural diversification in agriculture-based developing countries is beneficial. At the microeconomic level, increased agricultural diversification promotes human nutrition and raises household incomes, while allowing farmers to adapt to the challenges posed by climate change.

A study recently published in Food Security journal used Malawi as a case study, analyzing recent patterns and determinants of farm level crop diversification in order to better understand how policies impact on diversification and how they can be better formulated or implemented to effectively promote diversification. The study, titled How diversified is cropping in Malawi? Patters, determinants, and policy implications, used descriptive and econometric approaches to study crop diversification. Data from two nationally representative household surveys, which covered cropping seasons in 2004/05 and 2010/11, show that crop diversification has deteriorated nationally in different Agricultural Development Divisions (ADDs), although beneficiaries of the widely-implemented Farm Input Subsidy Program (FISP) have become more diversified.

The study also found that crop diversification varies significantly across agro-ecological zones. Results also indicate that deliberately targeted policies lead to more commercially orientated crop diversification. We conclude that further crop diversification could be promoted among different types of farmers with the aim of contributing to economic growth, risk reduction, and nutrition security in Malawi.

Authors: Henry Kankwamba, Mariam Kadzamira, and Karl Pauw, 2018.

Click here to download and read the publication in the IFPRI repository.