Agriculture support services: Direct effects, complementarities and time dynamics

Rural poverty remains a pervasive problem in Malawi, and many poverty reduction interventions focus on transitioning rural households out of subsistence agriculture. In a country like Malawi, where smallholder farmers constitute roughly 80 percent of the population and produce about 80 percent of the country’s food, this approach is unlikely to be effective, particularly in >> Read more

Adoption and impact of climate smart maize varieties in southern Africa

The economies of many African countries depend on the agricultural sector. However, the sector has performed poorly in recent years, posing challenges to countries’ development goals of ensuring food security and reducing poverty. This is due in part to over-dependence on rain-fed agriculture, as well as climate change and variability. Droughts can severely impact crop >> Read more

Impacts of the 2016/17 Food Insecurity Response Programme on maize prices

Following dry spells and crop damage from Fall Armyworm, there is great uncertainty about what this year's harvest will look like. In designing the response to this year's needs, lessons can be learned from the impact of last year’s Food Insecurity Response Programme (FIRP). A recent Brown Bag Research Seminar by IFPRI Malawi’s own Bob >> Read more

Cost of the Gender Gap in Agricultural Productivity in Malawi

Despite the slew of statistics about the importance of women’s participation in agriculture to feed a growing population, particularly in Africa south of the Sahara, details about the agricultural work women do and their specific constraints are not always elaborated on at the country level. We know, for example, that women comprise a large proportion >> Read more

Smallholder Farming Systems in the Digital Age: Smartphone App for Measuring Diets and Time-use in Zambia

Gendered time use has major implications for household well-being and agricultural productivity, In particular, gendered time use effects food security and nutrition, as women are largely responsible for feeding the family. The use of mechanized farm tools can decrease the amount of time required for production, allowing households to improve their agricultural yields through improved >> Read more

Using spatial data to analyze migration and employment in Malawi

Geographic information systems, or GIS, is not exactly a new concept, but there are plenty of missed opportunities to use spatial data to fill data gaps or to provide non-biased results (due to the presence of spatial autocorrelation and heterogeneity) on a variety of research topics. But first—what exactly is geospatial data? Geospatial data identifies >> Read more

Harnessing markets for improved nutrition

Hunger and undernutrition are long standing problems that are difficult to address in Malawi. Can markets be leveraged­—linking producers to consumers and delivering nutrient-dense food—to improve nutrition and food security, especially of the poor? Preliminary results from a recent study, “Harnessing markets for improved nutrition: A Case Study of Zomba,” were presented by Noora-Lisa Aberman >> Read more

Is irrigation in Malawi a worthwhile investment?

Investing in irrigation is often considered to be a viable approach to not only raising crop yields and farm incomes, but also mitigating the adverse effects of climate variability. This is particularly true in Malawi, where most of the economy depends on agriculture, and where frequent and severe droughts exacerbate poverty and food insecurity. Despite >> Read more

IFPRI leads discussion on costs and benefits of public grain reserves

Last Friday afternoon, about 20 colleagues from development partners, research organizations, and government ministries gathered at the IFPRI-Malawi office in Lilongwe to join an informal seminar, led by Dr. Nicholas Minot, Deputy Division Director of IFPRI’s Markets, Trade, and Institutions Division. The discussion, “Public grain reserves: International experience and lessons for Malawi,” explored the objectives >> Read more

Maize markets symposium: event report & recommendations

On 1 October 2015, IFPRI, with support from a multi-partner planning committee, held a high-level event to explore the evidence on best practices for improving the functionality of staple food markets. Technical presentations from IFPRI, FAO, the World Bank, and IAPRI laid out evidence on the topic. Stakeholder discussions then reflected on the current realities >> Read more