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The Impact of Tobacco Production Liberalization on Smallholders in Malawi

Discussion Papers


October 2008


Burley tobacco production in Malawi was liberalized to permit production by smallholders in the early 1990s. The purpose of this paper is to show which smallholders began producing burley tobacco after liberalization and which smallholders still continue to produce it. Analysis of the characteristics of burley tobacco producers shows that only smallholders who had adequate farm size and adequate funds could start to produce it. With regard to the farm size requirements, only smallholders who had enough acreage to sell tobacco on the auction floors and who had enough acreage to rotate crops could start to produce. With regard to the financial requirements, only smallholders who could procure funds through informal institutions or who possessed their own capital to meet the necessary agricultural expenditures could start. So, it was only the wealthy households which could start to produce tobacco after liberalization and continue to produce it.

Keywords: smallholder, tobacco, Malawi, agricultural income, liberalization
JEL classification: D10, Q12, R20

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