Generational dynamics and agricultural intensification among smallholders in Malawi

A majority of the Malawian population depends on agriculture for all or part of their livelihoods. Smallholder farmers dominate the agricultural sector and maize is the main staple crop.  83.8 per cent of Malawi’s total population is under the age of 40. While elderly people still represent a small share of the country’s inhabitants, their numbers have increased significantly over the past decades.

This research finds that mean maize yields among youth headed smallholders and households headed by elderly farmers have stagnated between 2008 and 2017. Qualitative interviews with youth and elderly respondents suggest that youth have limited access to land which prevent them from establishing an independent source of livelihood, and that the elderly are constrained by age and physical limitations.

 

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