Open Access

Soil Investments on Rented versus Owned Plots: Evidence from a Matched Tenant-Landlord Sample in Malawi

Jacob Ricker-Gilbert, Jordan Chamberlin and Joseph Kanyamuka


We use a unique data set on matched tenant-landlord pairs in Malawi to compare decisions on smallholder plots that were rented versus those that were owner-operated. Controlling for household and rental-pair fixed effects, we found that some input use (e.g., hybrid maize seed) and soil fertility investments (e.g., manure, compost, minimum tillage) were higher on tenants’ owner-operated plots than on their rented-in plots. Tenants were also less likely to use compost than their landlords. Landlords were less likely to rent out plots with fruit trees. Our results suggest that the expansion of farmland rental markets may exacerbate soil fertility maintenance concerns.


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