Cash transfer programs and agricultural production: the case of Malawi


  • The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

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Cash transfer programs are increasingly utilized to combat poverty and hunger while building the human capital of future generations; however, they have been faulted by some for failing to build the productive capacity of current generations. This article analyzes the impact of the Malawi Social Cash Transfer Scheme on agricultural production. The results show strong increases in ownership of productive agricultural assets, in time devoted to household farms, and in food types consumed from own production, coupled with a sharp decrease in ganyu labor, which is often used as a coping mechanism once food stores have been depleted. These results are most likely achieved by helping farmers overcome credit and liquidity constraints. This research shows that cash transfer programs can help the capacity of extremely poor farm households to expand agriculture production even if the goal of the program is focusing on other dimensions of poverty.