Contribution of Malawi’s decentralized agricultural extension service system to farmers’ maize productivity

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Tanzania Journal of Agricultural Sciences


Agricultural extension plays a critical role in the agricultural sector’s development and sustainability of farmers’ productivity and well-being. Malawi has consistently been reforming its agricultural extension services to increase accessibility by farmers. However, smallholder farmers’ productivity remains low. Therefore, the study on which the paper is based, aimed at examining the contribution of Malawi’s decentralized agricultural extension system (DAESS) to households’ maize productivity. Specifically, the study aimed at determining how farmers’ access to agricultural extension services, factors associated with their maize productivity and lastly, farmers’ satisfaction with Malawi’s DAESS. The study adopted the cross-sectional research design whereby a structured questionnaire was used to collect quantitative data from 150 smallholder maize farmers in Mangochi district, Malawi. In addition, supplementary data were collected from 10 focus group discussions involving 6 – 8 participants and from nine (9) key informant interviews. IBM-SPPS was used to determine descriptive and inferential statistics. Regression analysis was run to determine how access to extension services is associated with maize productivity. Farmers’ satisfaction with DAESS was measured using a 5-point Likert scale. Study findings show that farmers’ access to extension services was positively and significantly (p<0.001) associated with maize productivity and that 73.3% of smallholder farmers expressed a high level of satisfaction with the services provided. It is concluded that access and number of visits to extension services raise farmers’ maize productivity. It is also concluded that most smallholder farmers in Mangochi district were satisfied with the extension services they received. Therefore, it is recommended that the government of Malawi should continue with the implementation and improvement of the DAESS and use of the lead farmer approach to expand access to quality agricultural extension services by smallholder farmers.


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Smallholder farmers, Decentralization, Agricultural extension services, Maize productivity,, Satisfaction


Mphepo, P.J. and J.K. Urassa