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Gender and Intra-Household Use of Fertilizers in the Malawi Farm Input Subsidy Programme

Working Paper 28

by Ephraim W. Chirwa, Peter M. Mvula, Andrew Dorward and Mirriam Matita
December 2011

The Farm Input Subsidy Programme targets households for subsidized farm inputs, and usually it is the head of the household who receives the coupons. Since households tend to have multiple plots which are controlled by different members of the household, there may be intra-household issues that arise in the use of farm inputs available to the household.

We find that while male-headed households are more likely to receive coupons than female-headed households, there seems to be less bias in intra-household use of subsidized fertilizers (or fertilizers in households receiving subsidy) between plots controlled by female and male members. This is despite the fact that, more generally, household incomes from various sources tend to be controlled and allocated by men. It also contrasts with evidence that plots controlled by female members were less likely to be applied with fertilizers when we consider all fertilizers in subsidized and unsubsidized households.