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Elitist Land and Agriculture Policies and the Food Problem in Malawi


  • Kalonga Stambuli

    (Surrey Institute of Global Economics Research)


The author argues that conversion of over 1 million hectares of customary land to leasehold land tenure merely endowed the elite with excessive landholdings they did not fully utilise for tobacco production because it exceeded the requirement for production of the quota of tobacco output allocated to Malawi. However, as a result of population growth food demands exceeded the carrying capacity of household land whose quality also diminished resulting in steep decline in food productivity. The author also argues that government policy of suppressing producer prices combined with a policy of preventing smallholder farmers from growing the lucrative tobacco crop reduced incomes of the poor and deprived the rural sector the means to adopt high productivity technologies. The author also argue that estates would have used their excess land to produce more maize but the low producer prices paid by ADMARC, the grain marketing board, acted as a disincentive. Land rents were also pegged far below market levels that farmer held on to large amounts of idle land with a speculative motive. The author also observes that Malawi spends more on maize imports than on petroleum imports, and describes food problem as a rupturing time bomb that has been ticking since the early 1980’s.

Suggested Citation

  • Kalonga Stambuli, 2002. "Elitist Land and Agriculture Policies and the Food Problem in Malawi," Microeconomics 0211014, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpmi:0211014
    Note: Type of Document - word; prepared on IBM PC; to print on HP;

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    Cited by:

    1. Muyanga, Milu & Jayne, Thomas S., 2012. "Effects of Population Density on Smallholder Agricultural Production and Commercialization in Rural Kenya," 2012 Annual Meeting, August 12-14, 2012, Seattle, Washington 124993, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    2. Jayne, Thomas S. & Muyanga, Milu, 2012. "Land Constraints in Kenya’s Densely Populated Rural Areas: Implications for Food Policy and Institutional Reform," 86th Annual Conference, April 16-18, 2012, Warwick University, Coventry, UK 134723, Agricultural Economics Society.
    3. Jayne, Thomas S. & Mason, Nicole M. & Myers, Robert J. & Ferris, John N. & Mather, David & Sitko, Nicholas & Beaver, Margaret & Lenski, Natalie & Chapoto, Antony & Boughton, Duncan, 2010. "Patterns and Trends in Food Staples Markets in Eastern and Southern Africa: Toward the Identification of Priority Investments and Strategies for Developing Markets and Promoting Smallholder Productivi," Food Security International Development Working Papers 62148, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
    4. 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.

    More about this item


    Food; agriculture; starvation; land; poverty;

    JEL classification:

    • D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior
    • D2 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations
    • D3 - Microeconomics - - Distribution
    • D4 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design

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