The Quality of Agriculture and Food Security Policy Processes at the National Level in Malawi Results from the 2017–18 Malawi Agriculture and Food Security Policy Processes End Line Survey
Todd Benson, Zephania Nyirenda, Flora Nankhuni, and Mywish Maredia, 2018. The Quality of Agriculture and Food Security Policy Processes at the National Level in Malawi Results from the 2017–18 Malawi Agriculture and Food Security Policy Processes End Line Survey, Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy Research Paper 107. East Lansing: Michigan State University
A study was conducted in Malawi to assess the quality of national policy processes around agriculture and food security and the institutional framework through which they are conducted. The study involved twice administering the same survey questionnaire to a diverse set of over 50 national stakeholders on the issues. The survey was first administered in 2015 and then again in 2017/18.
Overall, the initial survey showed that, while some positive developments had been achieved and elements of the policy processes were quite strong, improvements were still needed both in the quality of those processes and in the quality of the institutions involved. However, contrary to expectations, the survey completed in 2017/18 showed an increase in pessimism among respondents as to the quality of the processes and the institutions involved in them. Indices on both the quality of the processes and on the quality of the institutions had dropped significantly from the baseline survey.
This result was unexpected, as policy developments around agriculture and food security in Malawi between 2015 and 2017/18 were quite positive—several important agricultural policy achievements had been realized. In addition, a 2018 biennial review on agricultural growth and transformation across Africa rated Malawi as having a strong performance on policy processes. However, Malawi also experienced recurrent widespread food insecurity crises over this period, the management of which required significant humanitarian assistance. Consequently, there is a significant disconnect between the reasonably high quality of the policy documents developed through these policy processes and the results obtained—the quality of policy implementation so far has not met the aspirations of those policies. Hence, in responding to the survey a second time, respondents were somewhat more skeptical than anticipated of the quality of the policy processes in which they are engaged. Better quality policy processes make an important, but certainly not sufficient, contribution to achieving better outcomes in Malawi’s agricultural sector and to ensuring the food security of Malawi’s citizens is optimal. Effective implementation of the policies developed through these processes also is necessary.