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Research Report


Julius H. Mangisoni
Richard Kachule
Thompson Kalinda
Thabbie Chilongo
Mwalimu Simfukwe
Emilio Tostăo
Copyright Date: Nov. 1, 2007
Pages: 49

Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. i-ii)
  2. (pp. iii-iv)
  3. (pp. vii-vii)
    Julius Mangisoni and Malawi Lilongwe
  4. (pp. viii-x)
  5. (pp. 1-2)

    The majority of rural small farmers in Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia use low purchased-input technologies and as a result produce low yields and face chronic food insecurity for two to five months of the year. These households are therefore in need of programs to increase their productivity and improve their food security. Smallholder subsidy programs such as starter packs to all rural households, containing small packs of hybrid maize seed, fertilizer and either groundnut or soybean seeds, have been implemented in some countries such as Malawi from 1999 to 2004 (Kachule and Chilongo, 2007; Gough, et al., 2000). In Malawi,...

  6. (pp. 2-5)

    In most African countries, agricultural input interventions have largely been in the form of seeds and agricultural tools directly distributed to the affected communities (Bramel et al., 2004). Among the major agricultural input distribution mechanisms (direct seed distribution, use of coupons and vouchers and distribution of cash for farmers to purchase inputs), the voucher system has been widely used by many NGOs (Bramel et al., eds. 2004).

    The effectiveness of direct input distribution has been questioned by a number of stakeholders including governments, donors and seed practitioners. The question “what to do?” if not “seed and tools” has not been...

  7. (pp. 5-7)

    Four studies were previously implemented by the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) in Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa and Zambia, to assess the importance and share of relief seeds in the overall national and regional trade (Kananji and Phiri, 2006; Simfukwe, 2006). The studies also analyzed opportunities for improving the contribution of relief seed programs to commercial seed market development. Seed market development is a broader objective for improving agricultural input and output markets. It is also a way of unleashing improvements in agricultural production and growth of the region. The four studies were motivated by the...

  8. (pp. 7-8)

    The specific objectives of the study were:

    1. To test the potential benefits of using voucher systems to integrate the commercial and non-commercial input distribution channels.

    2. To demonstrate the potential impact of implementing a full cycle of policy research, analysis and engagement, using the case of seed and fertilizer input vouchers.

    3. To bring about policy changes for enhancing input supplies to small farmers.

    4. To conduct training of policy analysts and policy engagements at national level....

  9. (pp. 8-9)

    The study had five main components: (1) analysis of potential benefits of using voucher systems to integrate the commercial and non-commercial input distribution channels; (2) demonstration of the potential impact of implementing a full cycle of policy research, analysis and engagement, using the case of seed and fertilizer input vouchers; (3) conducting a combined training workshop for policy analysts at FANRPAN’s national node in Lilongwe, Malawi; (4) national workshops to discuss results from the study; and (5) presentation of research findings at a regional workshop in Lusaka, Zambia.

    The study was carried out in Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia. Several steps...

  10. (pp. 9-16)

    A number of approaches or interventions are used in Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia to assist households facing chronic food insecurity to increase their productivity and improve their food security. These include direct input distribution to the target households, seed vouchers and fairs, starter packs, and vouchers of different types.

    Direct input distribution to households is practiced in Zambia and Mozambique. The Government of Zambia is investing substantial resources in this approach through the Fertilizer Support Program and the Program Against Malnutrition’s Food Security Pack. Other programs on direct seed distribution in Zambia are the FAO Food Security Pack and the...

  11. (pp. 16-17)

    Rapid field research and discussions in Phase 2 with key stakeholders such as farmers, private seed companies, government officials, relief agencies and donors were carried out to fill gaps in knowledge. Phase 2 focused on finding answers to the following questions:

    What commitments, knowledge and skills gaps on voucher systems are present?

    What distortions are visible to stakeholders with regard to relief input markets?

    What are the stakeholders’ perceptions of an input voucher system?

    How should vouchers be issued to small farmers and who should be issuing them?

    What should be the specific criteria for the voucher holders when he...

  12. (pp. 17-20)

    Considering the massive cost of the direct input distribution program, estimated at 5.8% of the total domestic expenditure in Malawi in 2004/05 (Whitworth, 2007), and the extensive amounts of planning, labor, and cooperation required, the flexi-voucher is preferred over the distribution of prepackaged inputs. Providing the option to obtain either agricultural inputs or goods with immediate cash value allows for the greatest potential increase in household cash income. Assigning inputs appropriate to the needs of the targeted households can potentially reduce misuse of inputs, i.e., selling or trading, and simplify the input distribution. Thus, utilization of flexi-vouchers holds potential benifits...

  13. (pp. 21-31)

    The objective of this paper is to assess the potential of using an input voucher system to integrate the commercial and non-commercial input distribution systems in Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia. To carry out this assessment three studies were carried out in Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia. The studies done in Malawi and Zambia involved literature review, focus group and key informant interviews, and rapid survey of smallholder farmers who participated in input voucher programs (Kachule and Chilongo, 2007; Kalinda and Simfukwe, 2007). The Mozambican study was slightly different in the sense that it focused only on secondary data to estimate the...

  14. (pp. 31-34)

    This study has shown that input vouchers have potential to integrate the commercial and non-commercial input distribution systems. The benefits accrue to smallholder farmers in form of increased and timely access to inputs; improved agricultural crop production; and food security at household level. The private sector has benefited in terms of increased input sales and enhanced profits. Government and NGOs have benefited through foregone input distribution costs and savings in foreign exchange previously used to import food.

    Prepackaged input packs are extremely expensive. They stifle private sector development, do not offer options/ choices to smallholder farmers, and have serious problems...

  15. (pp. 34-36)

    First, to avoid crowding out the private sector, donors, NGOs, and governments in Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and other SADC countries should consider using vouchers for all their relief or targeting programs. This will contribute to developing a vibrant private sector that creates employment, extends its distribution network into the rural areas and improves timeliness in input delivery for the benefit of smallholder farmers in the rural areas. It will also be more responsive to real as opposed to assumed needs.

    Second, to make the vouchers or coupons more effective, governments can consider percentile coupons. Such coupons can indicate, for example,...

  16. (pp. 37-39)