Malawi has pursued an agricultural-led development strategy since independence in 1964. This was a dual strategy which promoted estate agriculture for export earnings on the one hand, and smallholder agriculture for food security and subsistence needs. Following relatively successful growth in the early post-independence era, economic liberalisation policies in the 1980s and 1990s contributed to a worsening poverty situation which has yet to be remedied.This policy briefing presents results of a study of the link between access to land and changes in poverty status in Malawi using household panel data in 1998 and 2002. It assesses the feasibility of land redistribution and implications for pro-poor agricultural development.The author concludes:equitable land redistribution is key - agricultural-based pro-poor strategies that do not address the question of access to land in Malawi will be as ineffective as they have been in the past four decadesas Malawi reviews its poverty reduction strategies, land reform and land use should be prioritised for the agricultural sector to generate pro-poor growthland redistribution alone is not sufficient for poverty reduction - the process must ensure that land is secure and households must be provided with base capital and extension services that will enable them make the best use of the landaccess to land must also be complemented by access to non-land assets, access to credit markets, access to extension services and training of beneficiaries in modern farming techniquessince agriculture in southern Africa is subjected to weather shocks, it is also important to invest in water harvesting facilities under the land reform programme to facilitate irrigation farming.This paper is a revised version of a 2004 report. [adapted from author]
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The Southern African Regional Poverty Network (SARPN) is a non-profit organisation that promotes debate and knowledge sharing on poverty reduction processes and experiences in Southern Africa. SARPN aims to contribute towards effective reduction of poverty in the countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) through creating platforms for effective pro-poor policy, strategy and practice.