A comparative value chain analysis of burley tobacco in Malawi, 2003/04 and 2009/10
This article conducts a value chain analysis of smallholder burley tobacco production in Malawi for the 2003/04 and 2009/10 agricultural seasons. The comparison suggests in 2003/04 smallholder profits from growing burley were limited by two main factors: first, the practices of leaf merchant companies on the auction floors who operated as a cartel (and governed the burley supply thread); and secondly, by inefficient marketing arrangements. By the 2009/10 season the rents, governance and systemic efficiency within the supply thread had changed considerably: there was greater competition on the auction floors largely due to direct state intervention (which increased growers' net margins in nominal terms), improvements in marketing arrangements, tighter state regulation (including the introduction of minimum prices for grades of burley) and increased systemic efficiency (through a rapid expansion of contract farming). The article concludes by highlighting some of the opportunities and threats that this form of vertical integration poses smallholder growers.
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