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Trade restrictions such as export bans have been a popular way for governments to protect their countries’ domestic food supplies, but research suggests that such policies are largely ineffective and even detrimental. A new policy note from the Malawi Strategy Support Program examines Malawi’s use of these policies and presents alternative policies that could help better meet the country’s food security and agricultural development goals. (Also read about the use of export bans in Tanzania )
According to the World Bank, Malawi ranks among the countries in the world that are most vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change, including exposure to drought, dry spells, and flooding. These extreme weather events can reduce the country’s agricultural production, threatening the livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers and increasing food insecurity and poverty, especially in rural areas.
Focusing on agricultural growth, particularly that of smallholder farmers, can help countries in Africa south of the Sahara achieve broader economic and development objectives, including poverty reduction, says a new open-access book prepared by the United Nations University (UNU-WIDER) and published by Oxford Press.
In 1961, annual milled rice production in Africa south of the Sahara was 2.8 million tons; this number reached an estimated 16.6 million tons in 2011.  Despite this increase, however, demand for rice in the region has outpaced local production, leading SSA to import more rice; according to a journal article in Agriculture and Food Security , the share of imports in SSA’s overall rice consumption reached 43 percent in 2009. This trend has caused policymakers and experts throughout the region to attempt to strengthen the domestic rice sector.
Agricultural risk poses a significant challenge for Malawi, in terms of both its food security and its overall economic development. Looking at two studies conducted in 2014 and 2015 in collaboration with the Government of Malawi, a 2015 World Bank Agricultural Global Practice Note examines the major risks facing Malawian agriculture, how those risks could hurt both individuals and the country as a whole, and what potential steps could be taken to better guard against agricultural losses.