In 1964 when the British colonialists left, Malawians ate mostly home-grown maize and earned foreign exchange from tobacco. Despite huge efforts and the doubling of the population, little has changed. The problem is masked, except in exceptional droughts, by huge subsidies on imported fertilisers and hybrid maize. Tobacco continues to account for two-thirds of export earnings; no longer confined to commercial estates, it is grown by 80,000 smallholders.
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