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Up in smoke ? agricultural commercialization, rising food prices and stunting in Malawi

Author

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  • Wood, Benjamin
  • Nelson, Carl
  • Kilic, Talip
  • Murray, Siobhan

Abstract

Diversification into high-value cash crops among smallholders has been propagated as a strategy to improve welfare in rural areas. However, the extent to which cash crop production spurs projected gains remains an under-researched question, especially in the context of market imperfections leading to non-separable production and consumption decisions, and price shocks to staple crops that might be displaced on the farm by cash crops. This study is a contribution to the long-standing debate on the links between commercialization and nutrition. It uses nationally-representative household surveydata from Malawi, and estimates the effect of household adoption of an export crop, namely tobacco, on child height-for-age z-scores. Given the endogenous nature of household tobacco adoption, the analysis relies on instrumental variable regressions, and isolates the causal effect by comparing impact estimates informed by two unique samples of children that differ in their exposure to an exogenous domestic staple food price shock during the early child development window (from conception through two years of age). The analysis finds that household tobacco production in the year of or the year after child birth, combined with exposure to an exogenous domestic staple food price shock, lowers the child height-for-age z-score by 1.27, implying a 70-percent drop in z-score. The negative effect is, however, not statistically significant among children who were not exposed to the same shock. The results put emphasis on the food insecurity and malnutrition risks materializing at times of high food prices, which might have disproportionately adverse effects on uninsured cash crop producers.

Suggested Citation

  • Wood, Benjamin & Nelson, Carl & Kilic, Talip & Murray, Siobhan, 2013. "Up in smoke ? agricultural commercialization, rising food prices and stunting in Malawi," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6650, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6650
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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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    Cited by:

    1. repec:spr:ssefpa:v:9:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s12571-017-0669-z is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Ralitza Dimova & Ira N. Gang, 2015. "Female Engagement in Commercial Agriculture, Interventions and Welfare in Malawi: What Works for the Poorest?," Departmental Working Papers 201522, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
    3. Wood, Benjamin D.K. & Dong, Michell, 2015. "Recalling Extra Data: A Replication Study of Finding Missing Markets," Proceedings Issues, 2014: Food, Resources and Conflict, December 7-9, 2014, San Diego, California 206225, International Agricultural Trade Research Consortium.
    4. Kirimi, Lilian & Gitau, Raphael & Olunga, Millicent, 2013. "Household Food Security And Commercialization Among Smallholder Farmers In Kenya," 2013 AAAE Fourth International Conference, September 22-25, 2013, Hammamet, Tunisia 161445, African Association of Agricultural Economists (AAAE).
    5. Babu, Suresh Chandra & Haggblade, Steven & Mkandawire, Elizabeth & Nankhuni, Flora & Hendriks, Sheryl L., 2016. "Micronutrient policy process in Malawi:," IFPRI discussion papers 1568, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Health Monitoring&Evaluation; Food&Beverage Industry; Rural Poverty Reduction; Regional Economic Development;

    JEL classification:

    • D13 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Production and Intrahouse Allocation
    • I15 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Economic Development
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • Q16 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - R&D; Agricultural Technology; Biofuels; Agricultural Extension Services

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