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Research Report

Potential of Input Vouchers as a Mechanism for Integrating the Non-Commercial and Commercial Input Markets:: The Case of Malawi

Richard N. Kachule
Thabbie M.S. Chilongo
Copyright Date: Oct. 1, 2007
Pages: 42

Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. 1-2)
  2. (pp. 3-3)
  3. (pp. 4-4)
  4. (pp. 5-5)
  5. (pp. 6-7)
  6. (pp. 8-10)

    Malawi has had recurring food deficits beginning from the mid-1990s. The repetitive susceptibility to food deficits is indicative of declining agricultural productivity, for which the reasons include disasters such as droughts and floods, lack of and/or inadequate use of improved/modern technologies due to poverty, the impact of HIV/AIDS, poorly managed liberalisation of markets, insufficient arable land, and poor and declining soil fertility. A number of interventions have been implemented aimed at alleviating the suffering of those affected by the declining agricultural productivity, particularly the vulnerable members of the rural communities. Such interventions have included safety net programmes and emergency relief...

  7. (pp. 10-11)

    In 2006, the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) commissioned a number of studies in Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia aimed at assessing the importance and share of relief seed in the overall national and regional trade (Simfukwe 2006; Kananji and Phiri 2006), investigating the various mechanisms through which relief seed is provided and also analyzing opportunities for improving the contribution of relief seed programs to commercial seed market development (Kachule and Madola 2006).

    The FANRPAN studies confirmed the importance of relief seed in countries such as Malawi and Zambia where such seed accounted for close to 50...

  8. (pp. 11-13)

    A comprehensive literature review on this subject was undertaken as Phase 1 of this project (Kachule and Chilongo 2007). From the Phase 1 literature review, it was noted that recurring natural disasters (droughts and floods), poor macro-economic factors, prevalence of HIV/AIDS, poverty amongst the majority of the people, and the general decline in agricultural productivity due to declining soil fertility are some of the factors that have contributed to continued food insecurity and general suffering of the majority of the people in developing countries. Governments, NGOs and other private sector agencies have been in the forefront in implementing programmes aimed...

  9. (pp. 14-14)

    This field research was a follow up to the Phase 1 literature review (Kachule and Chilongo 2007). Planning for the rapid field research started with a consultative workshop involving the Malawian and Zambian researchers with the guidance of the overall project coordinator (Dr. Doug Merrey of FANRPAN Secretariat) and the regional coordinator (Dr. Julius Mangisoni from Bunda College of Agriculture of the University of Malawi). The workshop was also attended by private sector and civil society representatives from Malawi and Zambia. The aim of the workshop was to develop a common approach to the study and also the study tools...

  10. (pp. 14-29)

    The discussion of the results is primarily focused on the government subsidy programme. This is based on the fact that the subsidy programme was common to all areas visited by the research team. However, there were a few cases where communities mentioned other programmes than the government subsidy. These were mostly input supply programmes by NGOs and involved either direct distribution or use of vouchers through seed fairs.

    Consultations with various stakeholders indicated that the concept of input vouchers/coupons and subsidies and their modalities are well understood by most people. For example, most representatives of local communities defined a voucher/coupon...

  11. (pp. 29-30)

    The subsidy programme has been implemented in an ad hoc manner in the sense that there has been no clear policy guiding its implementation. The government is having to learn from experience, in that lessons from previous programmes are used to improve on implementation of the next/subsequent programme. The subsidy programme contributed to food security at household level and surplus at national level to the extent that Malawi has been able to export maize to Zimbabwe and donate some to Lesotho. Implementation of the programme has had problems in terms of reaching the majority of the intended beneficiaries. This has...

  12. (pp. 30-32)

    Much as the programme has contributed to improved food security at household level, the potential benefits of the programme can be enhanced by improving on logistical arrangements which should include:

    Development of clear selection criteria for the beneficiaries.

    There should be transparency at all levels of the programme starting from beneficiary identification to issuing of inputs.

    The programme must improve on timeliness as suggested by most of the stakeholders that were consulted who recommended the following implementation schedule of activities:

    Distribution points should be close enough to the beneficiaries, i.e., not more than 5 km, so that beneficiaries do not...

  13. (pp. 33-34)
  14. (pp. 35-42)