Improved Agricultural Technology and Tropical Forest Pressure: The Case of Malawi’s Starter Pack Scheme
M. Fisher; G. Shively
Type of Document:
Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics
Date of Publication:
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Abstract: The impact of Malawi’s Starter Pack Scheme (SPS), a free-inputs program policy aimed at promoting agricultural intensification is studied. Household survey data from southern Malawi are used to evaluate the program from the standpoint of forest conservation, asking whether improved access to seed-fertilizer technology changed incentives for households to exploit forests and, if so, whether this led to an increase or a decrease in forest pressure. Tobit models are estimated to measure the impact of the free-inputs program on forest clearing and forest product commercialization. The analysis reveals no measurable effect of receipt of a free packet of inputs on forest clearing decisions. But findings indicate that households that received a starter pack had lower levels of forest product extraction for commercial purposes than households that did not receive a starter pack, all else being equal. Taken together, results suggest potential modest improvement in forest condition as a result of the SPS. Policy implications are discussed.