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Input Subsidies and Demand for Improved Maize: Relative Prices and Household Heterogeneity Matter!

This study uses simple non-separable farm household models calibrated to household, market, farming and policy context conditions in Central and Southern Malawi. The models are used to simulate how household characteristics, design and access to input subsidies affect the demand for improved maize seeds; how increasing land scarcity affects the
cropping system and demand for improved maize; and how access to improved maize seeds affects household welfare with varying access to input subsidies. The model simulations demonstrate that a) there is a high risk that access to subsidized improved maize seeds can crowd out commercial demand for improved maize seeds but the effect is very sensitive to household characteristics, market characteristics and relative prices; b) increasing land scarcity increases the demand for improved maize seeds and improved maize facilitates intensification among others through intercropping of maize with legumes such as beans and
pigeon peas; c) the welfare effects depend on households’ ability to utilize the potential of the improved varieties by combining them with complementary inputs.