Building on the success of Malawi’s fertilizer subsidy programme

Since its introduction in 2004, the Malawian government’s subsidy programme, which gives smallholders vouchers to buy seeds and fertilizer, has more than doubled farmers’ harvests. The example of Malawi is cited regularly as a symbol of how African agriculture can lift itself out of low productivity.

In order to continue the programme’s success, in 2007 fertilizer company Yara initiated the Malawi Agricultural Partnership (MAP) whose focus was to make the subsidy initiative more effective and reduce costs along the fertilizer supply chain.  Taking part in the MAP are AGRA (Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa), IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development), local authorities and the Norwegian government, amongst others. Working between government, private sector and donors, an investment plan has been created that alleviates the systematic problems in the fertilizer supply chain, in turn helping to share the risks with all involved in the scheme.

The MAP works on three objectives: i) to create an enabling environment by addressing subsidies, legislative and trade reform, fiscal policy and infrastructure; ii) to create an efficient value chain by supporting input suppliers, retailers, farmers and markets, and iii) to create the business services needed for each of the parts of the value chain to succeed.

In Malawi, Yara also contributes to Mwandama, a Millennium Village project supported by the UN, where inhabitants are the recipients of high levels of development aid, including seeds and fertilizer on a more generous basis than the nationwide scheme, and advice on diversifying their production into cash crops.

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