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Reflections on a National
Agricultural Policy for Malawi
In the context of an evolving Farm Input
Subsidy Programme
Farm...
Overview
 Context
 Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development
now developing a draft National Agriculture...
I. Vision for Malawi’s development
 Dr. Dorward uses a framework for conceptualizing
development and our aspirations
 We...
Vision for Malawi’s development (cont.)
 How do we characterize in these terms the broad
development ambitions of Malawia...
Vision for Malawi’s development (cont.)
 For Stepping-up and agricultural transformation:
 NAP should provide guidance f...
II. What are the Ministry’s duties to the
citizens of Malawi?
 Decisions must be made on what aspects of agricultural
liv...
Implications of more limited duties
 If rural household welfare is not principal concern and duty
of Ministry of Agricult...
Implications for design of FISP
 Focus on farmers best positioned to make use of fertilizer
effectively
 Those with labo...
Summary
 Here proposed several strategic, but difficult, choices for
consideration in developing the National Agricultura...
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Reflections on a National Agricultural Policy for Malawi in the context of FISP, by Todd Benson

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Reflections on a National Agricultural Policy for Malawi in the context of FISP, by Todd Benson

  1. 1. 1 Reflections on a National Agricultural Policy for Malawi In the context of an evolving Farm Input Subsidy Programme Farm Input Subsidy Program (FISP) National Symposium 14-15 July 2014 Lilongwe, Malawi Todd Benson IFPRI
  2. 2. Overview  Context  Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development now developing a draft National Agriculture Policy (NAP)  In coming months, content of policy will be subjected to broad consultations for review and comment  Provides an opportunity to consider more closely:  Vision of development for Malawi – both agricultural and broader human and economic development  In particular, the place of smallholder farming in that vision  Scope of duties of the Ministry  A more narrowly defined set of duties potentially allows for more strategic and transformational public sector action for agricultural development 2
  3. 3. I. Vision for Malawi’s development  Dr. Dorward uses a framework for conceptualizing development and our aspirations  We all want for ourselves, for our children, and for the nation two things. These are to:  Maintain and protect our current wealth and welfare, and  Advance our wealth and welfare  Three strategies to accomplish these aims: 1. Hanging-in – maintain and protect current welfare 2. Stepping-up – expand scale and productivity of current livelihood strategies – agricultural growth and, ideally, transformation 3. Stepping-out – engage in new livelihood strategies – structural transformation of the economy 3
  4. 4. Vision for Malawi’s development (cont.)  How do we characterize in these terms the broad development ambitions of Malawian?  What about smallholder farming in those ambitions?  Is it desired that smallholder farming continue to employ a majority of Malawian workers in 2050?  FISP has been a Hanging-in strategy  But, will it leave the next generation of Malawians with the basis for enjoying long, healthy, productive, and creative lives?  If not, Ministry must act strategically to enable Malawian smallholders to Step-up and transform agriculture  And, coordinating with other Ministries, make public investments to enable many Malawians to Step-out into livelihoods in other economic sectors 4
  5. 5. Vision for Malawi’s development (cont.)  For Stepping-up and agricultural transformation:  NAP should provide guidance for action to increase:  agricultural specialization at the farm household level,  agricultural diversification at the sectoral level, and  improved domestic output market functions to increasingly allow Malawian households to rely more on markets for the consumption of a broader diversity of foods  For Stepping-out and economic structural change:  Coordinate NAP and its implementation explicitly with:  broader human & economic development visions for Malawi, and  actions and investments being made in other sectors for which developments in the agricultural sector are critical to success 5
  6. 6. II. What are the Ministry’s duties to the citizens of Malawi?  Decisions must be made on what aspects of agricultural livelihoods need prioritization in the NAP  This involves considerations of the duties to the citizens of Malawi that the Ministry bears  Is it responsible for safeguarding welfare of farming households?  And the food security of all Malawian households  Or are its responsibilities more limited?  Focused on ensuring farming households are as productive as possible in pursuing their agricultural livelihoods  If more limited, this has ramification for strategic priorities in agriculture that should feature in the NAP and for design of FISP 6
  7. 7. Implications of more limited duties  If rural household welfare is not principal concern and duty of Ministry of Agriculture, several implications:  Stronger commitment to public investments for agricultural transformation and structural change in the economy  Engage farmers in more specialized, market-driven production, but within context of more diverse farming systems overall  Strengthened markets a necessary corollary  Direct poverty reduction no longer as salient a goal for Ministry in its operations in the longer term  Strategies to achieve food security would necessarily be broadened  Particularly through an increased reliance by households on income, rather than subsistence production, to obtain the food they require  Income from commercial agriculture and, increasingly, non-farm sources  With social protection programs to assure access to food for the most vulnerable 7
  8. 8. Implications for design of FISP  Focus on farmers best positioned to make use of fertilizer effectively  Those with labor, assets, and management skills to attain higher nitrogen use efficiencies, but who remain constrained in their access to fertilizer  Such farmers likely will require lower subsidy benefit  Increased private-sector role in FISP input supply  If beneficiaries are commercially oriented & creditworthy  Aim would be for input subsidy to contribute to agricultural and economic transformation  Food security would be a secondary objective of FISP  Expand rural social protection programmes  As FISP increasingly is directed away from the most vulnerable 8
  9. 9. Summary  Here proposed several strategic, but difficult, choices for consideration in developing the National Agricultural Policy  Motivated by a concern that pursuing Hanging-in agricultural development strategies will prove insufficient  Development aspirations of Malawians will require that the government support them to both Step-up and Step-out  Allocating most public resources in agriculture to FISP alone has important opportunity costs 9

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