Notes to broadcasters on fertilizer subsidies:

    | September 28, 2009

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    As we saw in this week’s news story, Malawi’s dramatically improved food security situation has inspired several other African nations to consider fertilizer subsidy programs. Individual subsidy programs have been criticized on many fronts. There have been charges that corruption and political favoritism have prevented all farmers from benefiting. (We will look at some of the failings of fertilizer subsidy systems in a follow-up article in next week’s FRW.) However, these subsidy programs are also gaining much attention for the positive results they produce. And, in most cases, small-scale farmers welcome them with open arms.

    If your government operates a fertilizer subsidy program, you may wish to research a news story on the impact (if any) it has had on local farmers. Here are some questions to consider:

    -How does the subsidy program work? (For example, what is the mechanism used to allow farmers to purchase fertilizer at a subsidized rate?)
    -Who is eligible to receive the fertilizer subsidy? Are any farmers excluded from the program, either intentionally, for political reasons, or because some other problem impedes their access? Do men and women have equal access? Is subsidized fertilizer available to farmers without secure land tenure?
    -Was enough subsidized fertilizer available to meet the needs of local farmers?
    -Did access to subsidized fertilizer result in better yields for local farmers? What other factors affected yields this year?