Market and Trade Policy for Staple Foods in Eastern and Southern Africa
Edited by Alexander Sarris and Jamie Morrison
Chapter 10: Assessment of Maize Trade and Market Policy Interventions in Malawi
Ephraim W. Chirwa1 1 INTRODUCTION The Malawian economy is predominantly rural, with agriculture contributing more than 35 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP). Agriculture is also a major source of livelihoods for more than 85 per cent of the population. Crop production accounts for 74 per cent of rural incomes and agriculture is the most important occupation for 71 per cent of the rural population. The agricultural sector has two main subsectors. A smallholder subsector that contributes more than 70 per cent of agricultures share of GDP and an estate subsector that contributes less than 30 per cent. Maize, the main staple food, is cultivated by smallholder farmers mainly to meet their subsistence needs, with less than 20 per cent produced as marketed surplus. Maize accounts for 53.8 per cent of smallholder cultivated land and 96.4 per cent of farming households consider maize as the main staple food (NSO and IFPRI, 2002). Since Independence in 1964, ensuring food security has been a major development goal pursued by the government primarily through selfsufficiency in food production. Food security has traditionally been defined in terms of people’s access to maize. Others have described maize as ‘life’ (Smale, 1995). As a result, the policies towards the smallholder sector in agriculture have largely been driven by the desire to achieve maize self-sufficiency. This chapter assesses the maize trade and marketing policy interventions pursued by the government to achieve its agricultural objectives. It describes the prevailing national agricultural policy objectives, the rationale behind the...
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