Impact of the input subsidy programme in Malawi on the food security status of smallholder households.
Mukozho, Elizabeth Tendai.
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The Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP) of Malawi has received international recognition for improving the national food security in Malawi but limited information is available on the effect of this programme on household food security (HFS). The need for greater understanding of the effect of such programmes on food security at household level remains. This study employed the Household Food Insecurity Access Scale (HFIAS) to measure the food security status of 200 randomly selected households, 100 of whom were beneficiaries of the programme and the other 100 were not. The study also assessed the impact of the programme on the maize production levels during the 2013/2014 season. Results of the OLS model conducted showed that the number of fertilizer bags used had a significant effect on the maize production levels in the 2013/14 growing season together with the age of the households head, household income (MKW) and ownership of at most pigs or a wheelbarrow as physical assets. Probit regression results showed that marital status, household size, total arable area available to a household, regular area cultivated by a household, area allocated to maize production, receipt or nonreceipt of inputs through FISP and the production during the 2013/2014 agricultural season had a significant effect on the HFS. Receipt or non-receipt of inputs through FISP had significant coefficients in the regression model, showing that the programme had a positive impact on the HFS. However, the severity of household food insecurity is a cause for concern as 61% of the population was severely food insecure. At a household level therefore, the impact of this programme is not as the impact at a national level given the high proportion of severely food insecure households from this survey. Hence, the FISP on its own cannot ensure food security at a household level.