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AN ANALYSIS OF MALAWI’S PIGEON PEA VALUE CHAIN

Nathalie M. Me-Nsope and Flora J. Nankhuni

No 275676, Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy Research Papers from Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics, Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security (FSP)

Abstract: Background : Pigeon pea (Cajunus Cajan) is a crop that is well adapted in the semi-arid tropics. The legume is also highly drought tolerant (compared to maize, tobacco and cotton), and its long taproot is advantageous in accessing nutrients in deeper soil profiles (Snapp et al. 2003). The crop is also well adapted to the needs of poor smallholder farmers in the semi-arid tropics (Jones, Freeman, and Le Monaco 2002), because compared to maize, an important cash crop in Malawi, pigeon pea production is less resource intensive.1 Because of its adaptation to the agro-ecology in eastern Kenya, southern Malawi, northern Mozambique, southern Tanzania and northern Uganda, pigeon pea is a legume of choice grown by local population and the crop is particularly important in the diets in these regions (Jones, Freeman, and Le Monaco 2002). Smallholder farmers in eastern and southern Africa grow pigeon pea for subsistence and as a cash crop (Jones, Freeman, and Le Monaco 2002). At the household-level, the plant has multiple uses— its dried seed, pods and immature seeds are consumed as green vegetables; the leaves and stems are used for fodder and the dry stems are used as fuel (Simtowe et al. 2010). Compared to the dominant maize crop, pigeon pea grain has a high protein content of 21 to 25 percent (ibid), thus making it a valuable source of protein for many poor families who cannot afford other sources of protein, such as dairy and meat (Me-Nsope and Larkins 2016). The crop is also promoted in Malawi for its potential contribution to soil fertility through biological nitrogen fixation as well as from the leaf fall and recycling of the nutrients (Mhango, Snapp, and Phiri 2012; Snapp et al. 2002). Pigeon pea also has a strong potential to contribute to national food security through market possibilities. Almost two decades ago, Orr et al (2014) found that in the southern region of Malawi, the legume accounts for approximately 20% of household income among poor farmers. Several studies observe the potential the crop offers to improve livelihoods of resource-poor farmers (Bie 2008; De Schutter 2010); Mula and Saxena 2010). Despite these numerous potential benefits, smallholders continue to face numerous challenges that limit their ability to reap these benefits. Several questions remain about the performance, competitiveness, and profitability of pigeon pea production and marketing, and the ability of the value chain to contribute to the food security and poverty reduction objectives of the country of Malawi.

Keywords: Agricultural and Food Policy; Food Security and Poverty; International Development; Production Economics (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-agr and nep-dev
Date: 2018-05-02
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