The Political Economy of Agricultural Commercialisation in Malawi

August 2018
Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) Working Paper 17 (Blessings Chinsinga, Chancellor College, University of Malawi)

Examines the political economy of agricultural commercialisation in Malawi over the past three decades, which has been influenced to a very large extent by the changing configurations of political elites and their underlying interests, incentives and motivations, including using the agricultural sector as a source of political patronage, fraud and corruption. The contemporary vision of large-scale agriculture as the primary driver for agricultural commercialisation has not been effectively implemented due to pervasive chronic food security challenges since the late 1990s, epitomised by the implementation of the Farm Input Subsidy Programme and the political sensitivity of the land question upon which its success depends. The commercialisation agenda is further dictated by the primacy of politics over ideas, which makes it extremely difficult for policymakers to forge ahead with the practical implementation of certain ideas because they are generally seen as being less politically expedient.