This paper examines the livelihoods of smallholder households in Malawi based on information derived from six villages in various parts of the country. Through detailed analysis of own-farm production and off-farm economic activities, the study explores similarities, diversities and disparities in rural livelihoods. Liberalization policies and the high risk of crop failure have produced large disparities between those who achieve high income from own-farm production and those who do not. Off-farm income can help to reduce the risk of own-farm production, but is also a source of income disparity and provides little opportunity for upward economic mobility to escape poverty.
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