|Abstract: ||Tobacco cultivation has several disadvantages on both an individual and national level,
creating long-term social, economic, health, and environmental drawbacks. Tobacco is the
largest agricultural export good in Malawi. The sunflower with its high nutritional value and
positive economic externalities, seems to be a suitable crop to cultivate in the country.
Although sunflower cultivation is increasing, it is at a slow pace and it still constitutes a
modest fraction of Malawi's agricultural sector, not even covering the domestic demand.
This indicates that there are challenges associated with the transition between the two
crops. With the lack of research covering this area, it seemed appropriate to investigate
which these challenges are and how they can be solved.
This study aims to develop a deeper insight into the agricultural sector in Malawi, focusing
on the two crops tobacco and sunflower. These insights will be used to understand why
sunflowers are not grown to a greater extent in Malawi and, more specifically, the main
underlying challenges of switching from tobacco to sunflower cultivation. Moreover, this
study will investigate solutions to overcome these transition challenges.
The theoretical framework mainly focuses on relevant economic theories and models such
as supply and demand, externalities, and path dependency. Since these theories are often
derived from scholars in developed economies, which Malawi is not classified as this
chapter also has a special emphasis on developing economies. Human capital, institutions,
and managing risk are some areas described within this area.
The method was based on an inductive approach, which means that the theoretical
framework, as well as the literature, was chosen based on the data collected through the
interviews. This was well suited to a thesis which is largely based on information gathered
from interview subjects during a field study in Malawi. In addition, a literature study was
Results and implications
The thesis resulted in the identification of five challenge areas for Malawian farmers to
switch from tobacco cultivation to sunflower cultivation: the farmers' short-term economic
incentives, limited financial resources, education, and information, gender inequality and
corruption and deficient governmental institutions. Furthermore, solutions to these
challenges were proposed. It is found that the challenge of farmers' short-term economic
incentives could be solved by implementing tax on tobacco and subsidising sunflower
seeds. The subsidisation is a subject for corruption and it is therefore suggested to be earmarked
to mitigate the risk for corruption. To further overcome the identified challenges, it is
found that creating farmer cooperatives, making educational efforts towards women to
further empower them, and invest in irrigation systems could facilitate the transition towards