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The Politics of Hunger in an SDG Era: Food Policy in Malawi

Abstract

This study focuses on the relationship between politics and hunger and the national political discourse on food security in Malawi. Our aim is to better understand the role of local and national actors in pursuing policies that aim to achieve the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The empirical focus is on the Farm Input Subsidy Program (FISP), introduced by the Malawian government in 2005–2006, which supports smallholder farmers to better access to agricultural inputs. We provide an overview of the food security discourse and highlight the importance of political commitment for policy coherence that is required for achieving the SDGs. Thereafter, we introduce the policymaking scene in Malawi and FISP before critically examining the policy narratives on food security in the country. Our goal is to examine why some issues are effectively dealt with and not others. We argue that food security policies in Malawi are influenced by the political incentives they provide for electoral campaigns and for securing a regular flow of financial resources in agriculture projects that are highly dependent on foreign aid.

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Notes

  1. Global Targets 2025 to improve maternal, infant and young child nutrition, World Health Organization, https://www.who.int/nutrition/global-target-2025/en/

  2. “African and Middle Eastern countries remain world’s poorest, IMF data shows”, The Independent, 01 June 2018, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/poorest-countries-world-income-wage-imf-data-poor-poverty-a8379511.html

  3. Second International Conference on Nutrition Rome, 19–21 November 2014, http://www.fao.org/3/a-ml542e.pdf

  4. “Malawi’s Life Expectancy Up”, The Times, 12 October, 2016, https://www.times.mw/malawis-life-expectancy-up/

  5. According to UNAIDs, Malawi has been one of the biggest success stories in Sub-Saharan Africa, having reportedly saved over 260,000 lives since 2004 and achieved a 67% reduction in the number of children acquiring HIV. “How Malawi reduced its HIV/Aids infection rate”, 19 July 2016, https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2016/07/malawi-reduced-hivaids-infection-rate-160718084113107.html

  6. “Climate change is making it harder to reduce poverty in Malawi”, The Economist, 16 September 2019.

  7. https://www.globalpolicy.org/component/content/article/211/44542.html

  8. “2.8 million face hunger in Malawi - WFP”, https://www.africanews.com/2016/02/12/28-million-face-hunger-in-malawi-wfp/

  9. “1.9 m Malawi families face food shortage: Minister Mwanamvekhha outlines strategies to fight looming hunger”, Nyasa Times, 06 February 2018, https://www.nyasatimes.com/1-9m-malawi-families-face-food-shortage-minister-mwanamvekha-outlines-strategies-fight-looming-hunger-malawi/

  10. Interview with official, Ministry of Agriculture, Lilongwe, 21 August 2016.

  11. Interview with official, Ministry of Agriculture, 28 April 2018.

  12. “Nasfam fears that debt might choke economy”, The Nation, 16 October 2017, https://mwnation.com/nasfam-fears-debt-might-choke-economy/

  13. The remaining two being the ministries of education and health.

  14. “Minimum farm gate prices low”, The Nation, 09 May 2017, http://mwnation.com/minimum-farm-gate-prices-low-cisanet/

  15. Interview with official, Ministry of Trade, Lilongwe, 11 July 2014.

  16. “Mutharika Lifts Export Ban”, The Nation, 31 October 2017, https://mwnation.com/mutharika-lifts-maize-export-ban/

  17. Op.cit.

  18. Interview with official, Ministry of Agriculture, Lilongwe 19 August 2016.

  19. Interview with official, Ministry of Agriculture, Lilongwe, 18 September 2014.

  20. Interview NGO official, Catholic Development Commission of Malawi, 12 June 2014.

  21. “I’m Not a Stealer but Shrewd Businessman – Mulli”, Nyasa Times, 25 September 2018, https://www.nyasatimes.com/im-not-a-stealer-but-shrewed-businessman-mulli/

  22. “Mulli’s bid rejected, Nyiombo gets deal: Malawi fertilizer subsidy for IRLAD”, Nyasa Times, 13 September 2012, https://www.nyasatimes.com/mullis-bid-rejected-nyiombo-gets-deal-malawi-fertilizer-subsidy-for-irlad/

  23. Thus, Mulli Brothers Ltd. supplied 8% of the total 150,000 tons of fertilizer under the FISP program. “Mulli bounces back in Fisp”, The Nation 12 November 2014, https://mwnation.com/mulli-bounces-back-in-fisp/

  24. “Mulli’s bid rejected, Nyiombo gets deal: Malawi fertilizer subsidy for IRLAD”, Nyasa Times, 13 September 2012, https://www.nyasatimes.com/mullis-bid-rejected-nyiombo-gets-deal-malawi-fertilizer-subsidy-for-irlad/

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Banik, D., Chasukwa, M. The Politics of Hunger in an SDG Era: Food Policy in Malawi. Food ethics 4, 189–206 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41055-019-00055-3

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Keywords

  • Food policy
  • Hunger
  • SDG 2
  • Policy coherence
  • Malawi