We have assessed the agricultural cropping system in central and southern Malawi based on farm plot level data from more than 400 rural households and more than 4000 farm plot observations in six districts covering the years 2006, 2007 and 2009. In particular the study has attempted to identify effects of the Malawian input subsidy program (FISP) on the cropping systems. The types of effects looked at include;

· use of fertilizer and organic manure (whether these inputs are used or not at farm plot level),

· intensity of use of fertilizer and manure,

· the use of alternative maize varieties (hybrid, open-pollinated, and local),

· the productivity differentials between the maize varieties,

· input use and maize productivity,

· crop choice (choice between maize, legumes, root and tubers, other cereals, and tobacco/sugarcane

· factors affecting the household maize area and maize area share of total farm size

· extent of intercropping, crops used for intercropping, and decisions to intercrop at farm plot level

· presence of natural (indigenous) and exotic (planted) trees on plots.

The cross-cutting issues were:

· How has access to input subsidies for fertilizer affected these variables?

· How are they affected by asset poverty?

· What are the trends over time and variation across districts in Malawi?