Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN)

The Malawi success story
As FANRPAN celebrates the Malawi story, we share with you the media extracts endorsing the success.
May 2008

African Agriculture: "Ending Famine, Simply by Ignoring the Experts"
By Celia Dugger, 8 May 2008

The thesis of the story is basically that by doing the opposite of what the World Bank advised and subsidizing fertilizer, Malawi has managed to find itself in a world of agricultural plenty.

Low fertilizer use is indeed one of the Africa’s most vexing challenges. But subsidizing is only a bandaid, masking its high cost and low productivity without sustaining growth… Dr. Masters and his colleagues at Purdue University did one of the first studies of Malawi’s fertilizer subsidy program, when it was first introduced. They predicted the high payoff reported in the recent NYT article, but found that it had little to do with the fertilizer subsidy as such. Most of the effect comes from the improved seed that accompanied the fertilizer, and from overcoming Malawian farmers’ credit constraints.

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African Business: Malawi donates surplus food
By Lameck Masina, 1 May 2008

In 2002, Malawi, hit by drought, urgently needed food aid to avoid disaster; this year it was able to sell some of its surplus grain and also donate food aid to neigbouring countries. Lameck Masine explains how this remarkable change came about.

Malawi, one of those countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) worst hit by the 2002 drought that left about five million people - out of its 12m population - in dire need of food aid, has this year become an overnight donor of maize to other hungerstricken countries in the region.

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International Development Economics Associates: From Famines to Food Surplus: The Malawi Experience
By Arindam Banerjee, 10 December 2007

The recent turnaround in Malawi, a small nation in Southern Africa, from being a food deficit country to one producing surplus food grains and overcoming a persisting and excruciating famine is one of the most dramatic incidents in the history of the battle against hunger by the African nations. Malawi has been in the world headlines since 2002 with reports of widespread starvation deaths and hunger related diseases. The estimates of victims of hunger varied from 500 to several thousand, which compared unfavourably, even with the infamous Nyasaland famine of 1949 (said to have claimed around 200 lives) under British colonial rule. A large section of the population of this predominantly rural nation was forced to resort to eating banana stems and roots in a bid for survival.

This painful situation was recompensed when Malawi increased her corn production fascinatingly in the last couple of years. A record volume of maize output of 2.7 and 3.4 million metric tons in 2006 and 2007 respectively, up from the 1.7 million in 2005 transformed the famine-routed country to a food surplus economy. The country, till recently heavily dependent on the United Nations World Food Programme for feeding its population, has itself supplied as much as 400,000 tons of maize to the World Food Programme in 2007 for fighting an emergency food scenario in neighbouring Zimbabwe.

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New York Times: Ending Famine, Simply by Ignoring the Experts
By Celia W. Dugger, 2 December 2007

LILONGWE, Malawi — Malawi hovered for years at the brink of famine. After a disastrous corn harvest in 2005, almost five million of its 13 million people needed emergency food aid. But this year, a nation that has perennially extended a begging bowl to the world is instead feeding its hungry neighbors. It is selling more corn to the World Food Program of the United Nations than any other country in southern Africa and is exporting hundreds of thousands of tons of corn to Zimbabwe.

In Malawi itself, the prevalence of acute child hunger has fallen sharply. In October, the United Nations Children’s Fund sent three tons of powdered milk, stockpiled here to treat severely malnourished children, to Uganda instead. “We will not be able to use it!” Juan Ortiz-Iruri, Unicef’s deputy representative in Malawi, said jubilantly.

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The Development Executive Group: The Promising Case of Malawi and the Future of Farm Output in Africa
By David Lepeska, 10 May 2007

A food crisis grips the planet. Prices of rice, wheat and other essentials skyrocket, leading to food shortage riots in a dozen countries and jolting governments and policymakers to rethink their ideas about commodities markets, biofuels and agricultural production in the developing world. World Bank President Robert Zoellick has said the losses could drop 100 million people back into extreme poverty, wiping out a decade of development gains. World Food Program Executive Director Josette Sheeran has called the crisis "the silent tsunami."

Within this haystack of gloom shines the needle of Malawi, where a government-led fertilizer subsidies program has produced two bountiful maize harvests, filling stomachs and cupboards across this formerly destitute sliver of southern Africa. Last year Malawi exported 280,000 tons of maize as child malnutrition dropped an impressive 80 percent. And the good times are set to continue. Despite the global economic downturn the International Monetary Fund is forecasting nearly 8 percent growth for Malawi in 2008, as compared to 3.7 percent globally.

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The Independent-UK: Malawi's Farming Revolution Sets The Pace In Africa
By Steve Bloomfield, 5 May 2008

A green revolution taking place in the fields of Malawi has, in three years, turned a nation that was once reliant on international aid to feed half its population into a food exporter.

In doing so, it has set an example for other developing countries struggling to feed themselves. But it has done it all against the express wishes of Britain, the United States and the World Bank – its largest donors.

Malawi suffered a catastrophic drought in 2005. The World Food Programme estimated that five million people – out of a population of 12 million – needed food aid and many villages reported people dying of starvation.

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