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The Quiet Rise of Medium-Scale Farms in Malawi

Author

Listed:
  • Ward Anseeuw

    () (CIRAD & University of Pretoria—The Center for the Study of Governance Innovation and the Post-Graduate School of Agriculture and Rural Development, University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0002, South Africa)

  • Thomas Jayne

    () (Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics, Michigan State University, Justin S. Morrill Hall of Agriculture, 446 West Circle Drive, Room 317c, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA)

  • Richard Kachule

    () (Centre for Agricultural Research and Development (CARD), Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR), P.O. Box 219, Lilongwe, Malawi)

  • John Kotsopoulos

    () (GovInn—The Center for the Study of Governance Innovation, University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0002, South Africa)

Abstract

Medium-scale farms have become a major force in Malawi’s agricultural sector. Malawi’s most recent official agricultural survey indicates that these account for over a quarter of all land under cultivation in Malawi. This study explores the causes and multifaceted consequences of the rising importance of medium-scale farms in Malawi. We identify the characteristics and pathways of entry into farming based on surveys of 300 medium-scale farmers undertaken in 2014 in the districts of Mchinji, Kasungu and Lilongwe. The area of land acquired by medium-scale farmers in these three districts is found to have almost doubled between 2000 and 2015. Just over half of the medium-scale farmers represent cases of successful expansion out of small-scale farming status; the other significant proportion of medium-scale farmers are found to be urban-based professionals, entrepreneurs and/or civil servants who acquired land, some very recently, and started farming in mid-life. We also find that a significant portion of the land acquired by medium-scale farmers was utilized by others prior to acquisition, that most of the acquired land was under customary tenure, and that the current owners were often successful in transferring the ownership structure of the acquired land to a long-term leaseholding with a title deed. The study finds that, instead of just strong endogenous growth of small-scale famers as a route for the emergence of medium-scale farms, significant farm consolidation is occurring through land acquisitions, often by urban-based people. The effects of farmland acquisitions by domestic investors on the country’s primary development goals, such as food security, poverty reduction and employment, are not yet clear, though some trends appear to be emerging. We consider future research questions that may more fully shed light on the implications of policies that would continue to promote land acquisitions by medium-scale farms.

Suggested Citation

  • Ward Anseeuw & Thomas Jayne & Richard Kachule & John Kotsopoulos, 2016. "The Quiet Rise of Medium-Scale Farms in Malawi," Land, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 5(3), pages 1-22, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jlands:v:5:y:2016:i:3:p:19-:d:72727
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Frank Ellis, 2000. "The Determinants of Rural Livelihood Diversification in Developing Countries," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(2), pages 289-302.
    2. Thomas Reardon & C. Peter Timmer & Christopher B. Barrett & Julio Berdegué, 2003. "The Rise of Supermarkets in Africa, Asia, and Latin America," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1140-1146.
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    4. Frank Ellis, 1998. "Household strategies and rural livelihood diversification," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(1), pages 1-38.
    5. Ward Anseeuw & Antoine Ducastel, 2013. ""Production Grabbing": New Investors and Investment Models in Agriculture," QA - Rivista dell'Associazione Rossi-Doria, Associazione Rossi Doria, issue 2, June.
    6. repec:wbk:wbpubs:12481 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Kalonga Stambuli, 2002. "Elitist Land and Agriculture Policies and the Food Problem in Malawi," Microeconomics 0211014, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Sitko, Nicholas J. & Jayne, T.S., 2014. "Structural transformation or elite land capture? The growth of “emergent” farmers in Zambia," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 194-202.
    9. Bruno Losch & Sandrine Fréguin-Gresh & Eric Thomas White, 2012. "Structural Transformation and Rural Change Revisited : Challenges for Late Developing Countries in a Globalizing World
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Chamberlin, Jordan & Jayne, T. S., 2017. "Does Farm Structure Matter? The Effects of Farmland Distribution Patterns on Rural Household Incomes," FSP Research Papers 275685, Michigan State University, Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security (FSP).
    2. Deininger, Klaus W. & Xia, Fang, 2017. "Assessing Impacts of Large Scale Land Transfers: Challenges and Opportunities in Malawi’s Estate Sector," 2017 Annual Meeting, July 30-August 1, Chicago, Illinois 258112, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    3. Lay, Jann & Nolte, Kerstin & Sipangule, Kacana, 2018. "Large-scale farms and smallholders: Evidence from Zambia," Kiel Working Papers 2098, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    4. Chamberlin, Jordan & Jayne, T. S., 2017. "Farmland Concentration And Rural Income Growth: Evidence From Tanzania," FSP Research Papers 265608, Michigan State University, Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security (FSP).
    5. Nolte, Kerstin & Sipangule, Kacana, 2017. "Land use competition in Sub-Saharan Africa's rural areas," PEGNet Policy Briefs 10/2017, PEGNet - Poverty Reduction, Equity and Growth Network, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    6. Nolte, Kerstin & Sipangule, Kacana, 2017. "Land use competition in Sub-Saharan Africa's rural areas," Open Access Publications from Kiel Institute for the World Economy 168329, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    7. Holden, Stein T,, 2017. "Policies for Improved Food Security: - The Roles of Land Tenure Policies and Land Markets," CLTS Working Papers 9/17, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Centre for Land Tenure Studies.
    8. Jacqueline M. Vadjunec & Claudia Radel & B. L. Turner II, 2016. "Introduction: The Continued Importance of Smallholders Today," Land, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 5(4), pages 1-12, October.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Malawi; medium-scale farmers; land; livelihoods; farmer trajectories; farm expansion; land acquisition; land consolidation; domestic investors;

    JEL classification:

    • Q15 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Land Ownership and Tenure; Land Reform; Land Use; Irrigation; Agriculture and Environment
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q24 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Land
    • Q28 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Government Policy
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • R14 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Land Use Patterns
    • R52 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Regional Government Analysis - - - Land Use and Other Regulations

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