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Estimating the Enduring Effects of Fertiliser Subsidies on Commercial Fertiliser Demand and Maize Production: Panel Data Evidence from Malawi

Estimating the Enduring Effects of Fertiliser Subsidies on Commercial Fertiliser Demand and Maize Production: Panel Data Evidence from Malawi

Journal of Agricultural Economics 68(1): 70-97

ISSN/ISBN: 0021-857X

PMID: 28405052

DOI: 10.1111/1477-9552.12161

Most studies of input subsidy programmes confine their analyses to measuring programme effects over a one-year period. This article estimates the potential longer-run or enduring effects of fertiliser subsidy programmes on smallholder farm households' demand for commercial fertiliser and maize production over time. We use four waves of panel data on 462 farm households in Malawi for whom fertiliser use can be tracked for eight consecutive seasons between 2003/2004 and 2010/2011. Panel estimation methods are used to control for potential endogeneity of subsidised fertiliser acquisition. Results indicate that farmers acquiring subsidised fertiliser in three consecutive prior years are found to purchase slightly more commercial fertiliser in the next year. This suggests a small amount of crowding in of commercial fertiliser from the receipt of subsidised fertiliser in prior years. In addition, acquiring subsidised fertiliser in a given year has a modest positive impact on increasing maize output in that same year. However, acquiring subsidised fertiliser in multiple prior years generates no statistically significant effect on maize output in the current year. These findings indicate that potential enduring effects of the Malawi fertiliser subsidy programme on maize production are limited. Additional interventions that increase soil fertility can make using inorganic fertiliser more profitable and sustainable for smallholders in sub-Saharan Africa and thereby increase the cost-effectiveness of input subsidy programmes.

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Accession: 059699030

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