Impact of Farm Input Subsidies Vis-à-Vis Climate-Smart Technologies on Maize Productivity: A Tale of Smallholder Farmers in Malawi

  • Samson Pilanazo KatengezaEmail author


Farm input subsidies in Malawi are historically a strategic agriculture policy tool, particularly for enhancing maize production for national and household food security. This chapter presents a review of the impact of access to inorganic fertilizer through the Farm Input Subsidy Program (FISP) on maize productivity, and compares it with the impact of climate-smart agriculture (CSA) technologies, specifically the integration of inorganic and organic fertilizers. Results show a modest impact of FISP on maize productivity. Maize–fertilizer response rates, reported as nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) among FISP beneficiaries, ranges from 3 to 14 kg of maize per 1 kg of nitrogen (N) (kg/kgN) fertilizer used, which is below the expected agronomic average of 15 kg/kgN. Conversely, the NUE is 17–36 kg/kgN on experimental plots with integration of inorganic and organic fertilizer. These CSA technologies ensure efficient and optimal nutrient uptakek and drought resilience. This suggests that the impact of FISP can be enhanced if application of subsidized inorganic fertilizer is integrated with CSA technologies. FISP implementation strategy should therefore consider abandoning the current farmer-based targeting system and subsidize the soil by targeting adopters of CSA technologies. This approach has potential to provide the Government of Malawi with a sustainable exit strategy from FISP.


Drought-resilience Farm input subsidies Maize yield Malawi Organic fertilizer 



I would like to acknowledge the valuable comments and suggestions from Prof. Stein Holden and Ms. Sarah Tione of the Norwegian University of Life Sciences and Mr. Osborne Tsoka from Malawi’s Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development. I also sincerely thank the anonymous referee for the valuable comments on an earlier draft. Last but not least, I acknowledge the support from the Norwegian Programme for Capacity Development in Higher Education and Research for Development (NORHED)-Capacity Building for Climate Smart Natural Resource Management and Policy (CLISNARP) project for supporting the production of this chapter.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural ResourcesLilongweMalawi

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