Beyond Technocratic Debates: The Significance and Transience of Political Incentives in the Malawi Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP)

Abstract

The Malawi FISP resurrected debates about the role of subsidies in African agricultural policy. Recent literature has highlighted the social and political interests that influence the distribution of input-subsidy vouchers, often tending to reduce the efficiency with which such programmes contribute to poverty reduction. Taking the FISP as a case study, this article examines the political incentives that have driven programme implementation. Two streams of rents associated with the FISP were used to generate support for the first-term government of President Mutharika (2005–9), with very different implications for programme efficiency. One then stopped abruptly in 2009. The Malawi case demonstrates both the importance of political incentives in determining subsidy outcomes and how they can change dramatically over time.

Citation

Chinsinga, B.; Poulton, C. Beyond Technocratic Debates: The Significance and Transience of Political Incentives in the Malawi Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP). Development Policy Review (2014) 32 (s2) s123-s150. [Special Issue: The Political Economy of Agricultural Policy in Africa] [DOI: 10.1111/dpr.12079]

Beyond Technocratic Debates: The Significance and Transience of Political Incentives in the Malawi Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP)

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