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Fisher M.,International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center Ethiopia Office | Kandiwa V.,International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center Kenya Office
Food Policy | Year: 2014

Nationally representative data for Malawi were used to measure the gender gap in adoption of modern maize and to investigate how, if at all, Malawi's Farm Input Subsidy Program (FISP) has impacted the gap. Regression results show the probability of adopting modern maize was 12% lower for wives in male-headed households, and 11% lower for female household heads, than for male farmers. Receipt of subsidized input coupons had no discernible effect on modern maize adoption for male farmers. Receiving a subsidy for both seed and fertilizer increased the probability of modern maize cultivation by 222% for female household heads, suggesting the FISP has likely reduced the gender gap in adoption of modern maize in Malawi. © 2014 The Authors.

Fisher M.,International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center Ethiopia Office | Snapp S.,Michigan State University
Experimental Agriculture | Year: 2014

Modern maize varieties have been bred for drought tolerance and early maturity, to assist farmers in avoiding or escaping the effects of moisture stress in drought-prone areas. This study evaluates the prospects for widespread adoption of these modern maize varieties as a climate change adaptation strategy for smallholder farmers. Data are from a detailed household survey completed in four rural villages in Southern Malawi between May and July 2010. The empirical analysis involves estimation of an ordered logit regression model because the dependent variable is categorical, with one category for nonadoption (has never grown modern maize varieties) and three categories for the duration of growing a modern maize variety among adopters (this year only, 2 to 5 years and 6 years or more). The empirical findings indicate a positive association between a farmer's perception of drought risk and the adoption and continued use of modern maize. Regression results also show that farmers that value the traits of early maturity and drought tolerance are more likely to adopt modern maize varieties. There is evidence of some disadoption among farmers dissatisfied with maize genotype performance, in terms of poor storability and yield under drought conditions. Finally, the study highlights the urgent need for maize breeders interested in sustained use of modern varieties to simultaneously address robust drought tolerance, early maturity and storability. This underscores the importance of cognizance of local farmer preferences in crop breeding efforts. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2014.

Fisher M.,International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center Ethiopia Office | Lewin P.A.,University of Idaho
Development Southern Africa | Year: 2013

This study examines how socio-economic characteristics of households, local conditions, and public programmes are associated with the probability that a farm household in rural Malawi is food insecure. The statistical analysis uses nationally representative data for 8350 randomly-selected households interviewed during 2004/05 for the second Malawi Integrated Household Survey. Regressions are estimated separately for households in the north, centre, and south of Malawi to account for spatial heterogeneity. Results of a multilevel logit model reveal that households are less likely to be food insecure if they have larger cultivated land per capita, receive agricultural field assistance, reside in a community with an agricultural cooperative and relatively high annual rainfall, and are headed by an individual with a high school degree. Factors that positively correlate with household food insecurity are price of maize, price of fertiliser, number of household members, and distance to markets. Implications of these findings for policy are discussed. © 2013 Development Bank of Southern Africa.

Lunduka R.,International Institute for Environment and Development | Ricker-Gilbert J.,Purdue University | Fisher M.,International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center Ethiopia Office
Agricultural Economics (United Kingdom) | Year: 2013

This article provides a critical analysis of the current frontier of research evaluating Malawi's Farm Input Subsidy Program (FISP), whose main objectives are increasing maize production, promoting household food security, and enhancing rural incomes. We focus on farm-level studies in Malawi, identifying consistent and contrasting research results in order to draw important policy lessons and provide suggested avenues for future research. While national production estimates suggested dramatic increases in maize production and productivity during the years of the FISP, the farm-level studies found relatively modest increases in maize production and yields over the same period. Consistent with the farm-level results of modest maize production increases, there has been a relative increase in real maize prices and the country continued to import maize during most of the subsidy program years. Furthermore, there is evidence that better-off households gained substantially more than poorer households when they participated in the program. Together these findings cast some doubt on the FISP's ability to reduce food insecurity and poverty. We propose a number of policy lessons and suggestions for rigorous investigation, including research that directly measures the causal impacts of the FISP program on poverty in Malawi. © 2013 International Association of Agricultural Economists.

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