Malawi's energy needs and agroforestry: Impact of woodlots on fuelwood sales

Gregory G. Toth, P. K.Ramachandran Nair, Michael Jacobson, Yekti Widyaningsih, Colm P. Duffy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Malawi has not yet transitioned from the use of wood to more sustainable and efficient means of energy production. This aggravates the already dire problem of deforestation and contributes to severe fuelwood scarcity. The rural sellers of fuelwood, whose livelihoods depend upon access to the commodity, are particularly incentivized to find means of stabilizing their supply. Although agroforestry fuelwood technology (AFT) options such as private and communal woodlots are available for increasing sustainable supplies, Malawians largely have not adopted them. This study investigates the use of agroforestry in general, and AFT in particular, by rural fuelwood sellers in Malawi through analysis of survey results gathered during a large-scale agroforestry extension effort. The findings indicate that fuelwood sellers are 125% and 43% more likely to use AFT than the general population in the North and South regions of the country, respectively. Moreover, binary regression showed that the use of AFT in particular was directly related to the ability to sell fuelwood in the South (i.e., increasing its likelihood by 4.5 times). Based on the findings, the authors propose that for Malawi and similarly situated countries, household composition should be considered in policy and extension recommendations. Communal woodlots may be promoted for the general population in patrilocal areas with high numbers of female-headed households or particularly weak tenure scenarios, while individual woodlots within broader agroforestry prescriptions may be preferred for male-headed households. For both situations, the role of agroforestry in improving environmental conditions and thereby increasing future output levels should be emphasized.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-108
Number of pages8
JournalEnergy for Sustainable Development
StatePublished - Jun 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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