This page provides links to my research work (completed and work in progress) on the much publicized Malawi Farm Inputs Subsidy Program (fondly abbreviated as FISP) and other topics. This information can also be found on my LinkedIn profile page.

Peer-reviewed articles

1. Cropland Allocation Effects of Agricultural Input Subsidies in Malawi

Christopher Chibwana, Monica Fisher and Gerald Shively. World Development | May 7, 2011


We measure the impacts of Malawi’s Farm Input Subsidy Program on the cropland allocation decisions of farmers in Kasungu and Machinga Districts in central and southern Malawi. Using a two-step regression strategy to control for endogenous selection into the program, we find positive correlations between participation in the program and the amount of land planted with maize and tobacco. Furthermore, results suggest that participating households simplified crop production by allocating less land to other crops (e.g. groundnuts, soybeans, and dry beans). Our findings have implications for policies aimed at promoting both food self-sufficiency and crop diversification in low income settings.

Gerald Shively, Pamela Jagger, Dick Sserunkuuma, Arthur Arinaitwe and Christopher Chibwana. International Forestry Review 12(3): 270-283 | September 2010
This paper characterizes the charcoal value chain in Uganda, focusing on production and trade in three districts in the west central region of the country. Data come from surveys of 407 charcoal value chain participants undertaken in 2008. The surveys included 171 charcoal-producing households and 236 non-producer participants including agents, traders, transporters and retailers. Linear regression models are used to study overall profits and per-unit marketing margins along the value chain and to test several hypotheses regarding the importance of location, human and social capital, and asset ownership on observed economic returns and scale of activity. Evidence suggests the greatest overall returns to participation in the charcoal value chain are found among traders. Returns are positively correlated with the scale of activity. Controlling for a participant’s role in the charcoal trade, his or her characteristics, and available assets, we find little or no evidence of differences in economic returns among districts, despite widespread popular views of differences in available supply of charcoal. Location of production relative to major markets, and location-specific levels of monitoring and enforcement are not strongly correlated with observed outcomes.

Policy Briefs

1. The impacts of agricultural input subsidies in Malawi

Christopher Chibwana and Monica Fisher. International Food Policy Research Institute MaSSP Policy Note #5 (2011)

Achieving food self-sufficiency on a national basis is a high priority for the government of Malawi. The goal of the Farm Input Subsidy Program (FISP) is to enhance food self-sufficiency by increasing smallholder farmers’ access to and use of improved agricultural inputs, thereby boosting the incomes of resource-poor farmers. This policy note summarizes the results of recent research by Chibwana, Fisher, Masters, and Shively (CFMS 2010) and by Chibwana, Fisher, and Shively (CFS 2010), on the effectiveness of FISP voucher distribution to smallholder farmers, and on impacts of the FISP on fertilizer use, maize yields, and land allocation. The studies used data from a 2009 survey of 380 farm households in two districts in central and southern Malawi.

2. Impact of Subsidies on Fertilizer Use, Land Allocation and Forest Pressure: Evidence from Malawi

Christopher Chibwana, Charles Jumbe, Gerald Shively, John Mazunda, and Monica Fisher. Assets and Markets Access BASIS CRSP | September 2010

Working Papers

1. Measuring the Impacts of Malawi’s Farm Input Subsidy Program

Christopher Chibwana, William Masters, Charles Jumbe, Gerald Shively, and Monica Fisher.

2. Measuring the Forest Impacts of Maize and Tobacco Subsidies in Malawi

Christopher Chibwana, Charles Jumbe, and Gerald Shively

Workshop/conference presentations

1. Measuring the Impacts of Malawi’s Farm Input Subsidy Program

Christopher Chibwana, William Masters, Charles Jumbe, Gerald Shively, and Monica Fisher

Paper presented at the COMESA/ACTESA/MSU 5th AAMP Policy Symposium
April 20‐22, 2011, Kigali, Rwanda

2. Can Agricultural Input Subsidies Foster an African Green Revolution? Insights from Malawi

Organized session at the AAEA and NAREA Joint Annual Meeting, July 24-26, 2011, Pittsburgh, USA

Session Participants:

  • Jacob Ricker-Gilbert; PhD Student, Michigan State University, participant/presenter
  • Gerald Shively; Professor, Purdue University, participant/presenter
  • Stein Holden; Professor, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, participant/presenter
  • Christopher Chibwana, USAID/Malawi, participant/presenter
  • Rodney Lunduka, Bunda College of Agriculture, participant/presenter
3. The Impacts of Malawi’s Farm Inputs Subsidy Program
Christopher Chibwana, William Masters, Charles Jumbe, Gerald Shively, and Monica Fisher
Paper presented at the inaugural Africa Growth Forum, Brookings Institution, Jan 19-20, 2011 | Washington, D.C.

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