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Alternative Soil Fertility Management Options in Malawi - An Economic Analysis


  • Sauer, Johannes
  • Tchale, Hardwick


In this paper, we analyze the factors that influence the productivity of maize among smallholder farmers, given that unfavourable output and input market conditions throughout the 1990s have compelled smallholder farmers into unsustainable agricultural intensification. We use farm-household survey data in order to compare the productivity of smallholder maize production under integrated (ISFM) and chemical-based soil fertility management using a normalized translog yield response model. The results indicate higher maize yield responses for integrated soil fertility management options after controlling for the intensity of fertilizer application, labour intensity, seed rate, land husbandry practices as well as selected policy factors. The estimated model is highly consistent with theoretical conditions. Thus we conclude that the use of ISFM improves maize productivity, compared to the use of inorganic fertilizer only. Since most farmers in the maize-based farming systems are crowded out of the agricultural input market and can hardly afford optimal quantities of inorganic fertilizer, enhancement of ISFM is likely to increase their maize productivity. We finally highlight areas of policy support needed to enhance ISFM uptake in smallholder maize-based farming systems.

Suggested Citation

  • Sauer, Johannes & Tchale, Hardwick, 2006. "Alternative Soil Fertility Management Options in Malawi - An Economic Analysis," 2006 Annual meeting, July 23-26, Long Beach, CA 21423, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:aaea06:21423

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. M.A. Keyzer, 1998. "Formulation and Spatial Aggregation of Agricultural Production Relationships within the Land Use Change (LUC) Model," Working Papers ir98092, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.
    2. Andrew Dorward, 1999. "Farm size and productivity in Malawian smallholder agriculture," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(5), pages 141-161.
    3. Jonathan Kydd, 1989. "Maize research in Malawi: Lessons from failure," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 1(1), pages 112-144, January.
    4. Sauer, Johannes & Frohberg, Klaus & Hockmann, Heinrich, 2004. "Black-Box Frontiers and Implications for Development Policy Theoretical Considerations," Discussion Papers 18772, University of Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF).
    5. Chambers,Robert G., 1988. "Applied Production Analysis," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521314275, March.
    6. Smale, Melinda & Jayne, T.S., 2003. "Maize in Eastern and Southern Africa: 'seeds' of success in retrospect," EPTD discussion papers 97, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    7. Diagne, Aliou & Zeller, Manfred, 2001. "Access to credit and its impact on welfare in Malawi:," Research reports 116, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    8. Ryan, David L. & Wales, Terence J., 2000. "Imposing local concavity in the translog and generalized Leontief cost functions," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 67(3), pages 253-260, June.
    9. Minot, Nicholas & Kherallah, Mylène & Berry, Philippe, 2000. "Fertilizer market reform and the determinants of fertilizer use in Benin and Malawi," MSSD discussion papers 40, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    10. Lau, Lawrence J., 1986. "Functional forms in econometric model building," Handbook of Econometrics,in: Z. Griliches† & M. D. Intriligator (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 26, pages 1515-1566 Elsevier.
    11. Christopher Ackello-Ogutu & Quirino Paris & William A. Williams, 1985. "Testing a von Liebig Crop Response Function against Polynomial Specifications," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 67(4), pages 873-880.
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    Cited by:

    1. World Bank, 2010. "Sub-Saharan Africa - Managing Land in a Changing Climate : An Operational Perspective for Sub-Saharan Africa," World Bank Other Operational Studies 2874, The World Bank.
    2. Nkonya, Ephraim & Place, Frank & Pender, John & Mwanjololo, Majaliwa & Okhimamhe, Appollonia & Kato, Edward & Crespo, Susana & Ndjeunga, Jupiter & Traore, Sibiry, 2011. "Climate risk management through sustainable land management in Sub-Saharan Africa:," IFPRI discussion papers 1126, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).


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