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Food insecurity, poverty and the Malawian Starter Pack: Fresh start or false start?

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  • Harrigan, Jane

Abstract

Chronic food insecurity and chronic poverty are closely related in Malawi. Since independence in 1964 national food security has been a key policy objective. However, until the 1990s less emphasis was placed on the household dimensions of food security and its links with chronic poverty. In the last decade a number of initiatives have been used in Malawi to tackle the issue of household food insecurity. One of the most controversial has been the Starter Pack programme launched in 1998. Initially consisting of a free handout of packs of improved maize seed, legumes and fertiliser to every small holder farm household in Malawi the scheme, under donor pressure, was subsequently scaled down to become a form of targeted social safety net programme. This paper analyses the strengths and weakness of both the original programme and its scaled down version and assesses the reason for the considerable opposition to the programme from Malawi's donor community. Although Starter Pack is no longer operative in Malawi the Malawian experience is used to derive lessons for other countries where household food insecurity is an important dimension of chronic poverty.

Suggested Citation

  • Harrigan, Jane, 2008. "Food insecurity, poverty and the Malawian Starter Pack: Fresh start or false start?," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 237-249, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jfpoli:v:33:y:2008:i:3:p:237-249
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Smale, Melinda, 1995. ""Maize is life": Malawi's delayed Green Revolution," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 23(5), pages 819-831, May.
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    3. Kydd, Jonathan & Christiansen, Robert, 1982. "Structural change in Malawi since independence: Consequences of a development strategy based on large-scale agriculture," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 10(5), pages 355-375, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jayne, T.S. & Mason, Nicole M. & Burke, William J. & Ariga, Joshua, 2016. "Agricultural Input Subsidy Programs in Africa: An Assessment of Recent Evidence," Food Security International Development Working Papers 245892, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
    2. Bentry Mkwara & Dan Marsh, 2011. "Effects of Maize Fertilizer Subsidies on Food Security in Malawi," Working Papers in Economics 11/14, University of Waikato.
    3. repec:spr:ssefpa:v:9:y:2017:i:5:d:10.1007_s12571-017-0727-6 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Spielman, David J. & Mekonnen, Dawit Kelemework & Alemu, Dawit, 2012. "Seed, fertilizer, and agricultural extension in Ethiopia," IFPRI book chapters,in: Food and agriculture in Ethiopia: Progress and policy challenges, chapter 4 International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    5. Chibwana, Christopher & Fisher, Monica & Shively, Gerald, 2012. "Cropland Allocation Effects of Agricultural Input Subsidies in Malawi," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 124-133.
    6. Ricker-Gilbert, Jacob & Lunduka, Rodney & Shively, Gerald & Jayne, Thom, 2014. "Improving the Effectiveness of Malawi’s FISP," Food Security Collaborative Policy Briefs 234944, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
    7. Wouter Zant, 2016. "How does Market Access for Smallholders affect Export Supply? The Case of Tobacco Marketing in Malawi," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 16-054/V, Tinbergen Institute.
    8. Dionne, Kim Yi & Horowitz, Jeremy, 2016. "The Political Effects of Agricultural Subsidies in Africa: Evidence from Malawi," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 215-226.
    9. Blessings Chinsinga & Colin Poulton, 2014. "Beyond Technocratic Debates: The Significance and Transience of Political Incentives in the Malawi Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP)," Development Policy Review, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 32(s2), pages 123-150, September.
    10. Ecker, Olivier & Qaim, Matin, 2011. "Analyzing Nutritional Impacts of Policies: An Empirical Study for Malawi," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 412-428, March.
    11. Chamberlin, Jordan & Schmidt, Emily, 2012. "Ethiopian Agriculture: A dynamic geographic perspective," IFPRI book chapters,in: Food and agriculture in Ethiopia: Progress and policy challenges, chapter 2 International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    12. Skjeflo , Sofie Waage & Holden , Stein, 2014. "Economy-wide effects of input subsidies in Malawi: Market imperfections and household heterogeneity," CLTS Working Papers 7/14, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Centre for Land Tenure Studies.
    13. repec:eee:tefoso:v:132:y:2018:i:c:p:299-307 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Nordhagen, Stella & Pascual, Unai, 2013. "The Impact of Climate Shocks on Seed Purchase Decisions in Malawi: Implications for Climate Change Adaptation," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 238-251.
    15. Powlson, D.S. & Gregory, P.J. & Whalley, W.R. & Quinton, J.N. & Hopkins, D.W. & Whitmore, A.P. & Hirsch, P.R. & Goulding, K.W.T., 2011. "Soil management in relation to sustainable agriculture and ecosystem services," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(S1), pages 72-87.
    16. Ecker, Olivier & Qaim, Matin, 2010. "Analyzing nutritional impacts of policies," IFPRI discussion papers 1017, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    17. Giovanni Andrea Cornia & Laura Deotti & Maria Sassi, "undated". "Food Price Volatility over the Last Decade in Niger and Malawi: Extent, Sources and Impact on Child Malnutrition," UNDP Africa Policy Notes 2012-002, United Nations Development Programme, Regional Bureau for Africa.
    18. Spielman, David J. & Byerlee, Derek & Alemu, Dawit & Kelemework, Dawit, 2010. "Policies to promote cereal intensification in Ethiopia: The search for appropriate public and private roles," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 185-194, June.
    19. Sabina Alkire and Suman Seth, 2016. "Identifying Destitution through Linked Subsets of Multidimensionally Poor: An Ordinal Approach," OPHI Working Papers ophiwp099.pdf, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.
    20. Wouter Zant, 2012. "Is EU Support to Malawi Agriculture Effective?," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 12-090/V, Tinbergen Institute.
    21. Wouter Zant, 2012. "How does Market Access affect Smallholder Behavior? The Case of Tobacco Marketing in Malawi," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 12-088/V, Tinbergen Institute, revised 25 Aug 2014.
    22. Nyantakyi-Frimpong, Hanson & Mambulu, Faith Nankasa & Bezner Kerr, Rachel & Luginaah, Isaac & Lupafya, Esther, 2016. "Agroecology and sustainable food systems: Participatory research to improve food security among HIV-affected households in northern Malawi," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 164(C), pages 89-99.

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