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How does Market Access affect Smallholder Behavior? The Case of Tobacco Marketing in Malawi

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  • Wouter Zant

    (VU University Amsterdam)

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    Abstract

    Transaction costs play a key role in the behaviour of smallholders in developing countries. We exploit the introduction of an additional tobacco auction floor in Malawi to investigate the impact of a reduction in transaction costs and improved market access on production per hectare and the underlying smallholder’s decisions on production and cultivated area of tobacco, the major cash crop in Malawi. Given the non-experimental nature of the data we use matching and potential outcome models to identify impact. Estimations are based on annual data by Extension Planning Area, 198 in total, fully covering Malawi, for the period 2003-04 to 2009-10. The estimation results support a statistically significant positive impact of the introduction of a new auction floor on smallholders’ behaviour: production per hectare, production and area of tobacco has increased in the long run with respectively 20-25%, 36-38% and 15-21%. This outcome, and the increase in cultivated area in articular, suggests that lower transaction costs trigger smallholder farmers to shift to commercial agriculture.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Tinbergen Institute in its series Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers with number 12-088/V.

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    Date of creation: 03 Sep 2012
    Date of revision: 25 Aug 2014
    Handle: RePEc:dgr:uvatin:20120088

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    Web page: http://www.tinbergen.nl

    Related research

    Keywords: transaction costs; market access; subsistence; food & cash crops; Malawi; Africa;

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    1. Negri, Mariano & Porto, Guido G., 2008. "Burley tobacco clubs in Malawi : nonmarket institutions for exports," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4561, The World Bank.
    2. Steven Were Omamo, 1998. "Transport Costs and Smallholder Cropping Choices: An Application to Siaya District, Kenya," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 80(1), pages 116-123.
    3. Aparajita Goyal, 2010. "Information, Direct Access to Farmers, and Rural Market Performance in Central India," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 22-45, July.
    4. Marcel Fafchamps & Ruth Hill, 2004. "Selling at the Farm-Gate or Travelling to Market," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/2004-30, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    5. Fafchamps, Marcel & Gabre-Madhin, Eleni & Minten, Bart, 2005. "Increasing returns and market efficiency in agricultural trade," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(2), pages 406-442, December.
    6. Muto, Megumi & Yamano, Takashi, 2009. "The Impact of Mobile Phone Coverage Expansion on Market Participation: Panel Data Evidence from Uganda," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 37(12), pages 1887-1896, December.
    7. Minten, Bart & Kyle, Steven, 1999. "The effect of distance and road quality on food collection, marketing margins, and traders' wages: evidence from the former Zaire," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 467-495, December.
    8. Renkow, Mitch & Hallstrom, Daniel G. & Karanja, Daniel D., 2004. "Rural infrastructure, transactions costs and market participation in Kenya," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 349-367, February.
    9. Nigel Key & Elisabeth Sadoulet & Alain De Janvry, 2000. "Transactions Costs and Agricultural Household Supply Response," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 82(2), pages 245-259.
    10. Jayne, T S, 1994. "Do High Food Marketing Costs Constrain Cash Crop Production? Evidence from Zimbabwe," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 42(2), pages 387-402, January.
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