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Maize remittances, smallholder livelihoods and maize consumption in Malawi*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 February 2011

Agnes Andersson*
Department of Human Geography, Lund University, Sölvegatan 12, 223 62 Lund, Sweden


This article explores the phenomenon of in-kind remittances of maize and its implications for rural household livelihoods and food consumption. Interviews with a sample of 391 households in eight villages in Malawi are used to substantiate the discussion. Explanations for in-kind remittances are sought in the micro-level interaction between the formal market realm, informalised exchange systems and the household. Remittances are not connected to lower commercialisation levels, suggesting that the explanation for remittances should be sought in the production and consumption patterns of the households. Remittances function as an important redistributive mechanism for food across space. The role of smallholder food production for urban livelihoods as well as the subsistence responsibilities of rural households are underestimated if agrarian household level linkages from rural to urban areas are not recognised in national production and consumption surveys and among policy makers.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2011

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Special thanks are extended to John Kadzandira and Wapulumuka Mulwafu at the University of Malawi at Zomba and Stephen Wambugu at Kenyatta University, who carried out research together with the author in Malawi and Kenya, respectively. The author also wishes to thank Teketel Abebe, Göran Djurfeldt, Ellen Hillbom, Göran Hydén, Aida Isinika, T. S. Jayne and Magnus Jirström whose comments on different versions of the text are highly appreciated. In addition, the author wishes to thank two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on the final article. Research has been funded through support from the Swedish Research Council, and Sida's Research Council for Developing Countries.


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