Road accessibility and agricultural extension services in Malawi

Han Bum Lee, Paul E. McNamara, Hitomi Ho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: In recognition of the potential importance of road access in the provision of and request for agricultural extension services, this study investigates whether and to what extent access to paved roads would influence farmers’ access to extension services, using a nationally representative sample of households and communities in Malawi. Our study proposes an extension access measure that reflects the diversity of agricultural topics and extension service providers available in the village where farmers resided, which commonly is captured in a binary fashion of “contact” with extension agents. Method: The level of extension access is measured in the form of count data, and we employ a hurdle negative binomial regression model to account for unobserved farmer heterogeneity and excessive zeros that represent a group of farmers who received no extension services due to a lack of supply of extension opportunities in the village or a lack of demand. Results: We find a negative and non-linear relationship between access to paved roads and extension services, showing that, on average, the extent of access to extension services decreased by 14.1 percent as a farmer’s residence was one log of distance away from the nearest paved road. Women farmers had considerably lower extension access scores by 24.3 percent than men, indicating the prevalence of the country’s deeply rooted cultural and gender barriers. Furthermore, serving as lead farmers, human capital and economic characteristics, and extension resources available in the village—such as the number of extension agents and demonstration and farm trials—are identified as factors having a sizable contribution to determining the extent of extension access. Conclusion: Our study findings will provide empirical evidence that answers questions raised by past studies concerning the relationship among roads, agricultural extension, productivity, and other economic outcomes. Also, it will inform future research about the access to agricultural extension and agricultural development nexus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3
JournalAgriculture and Food Security
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Access to agricultural extension services
  • Hurdle negative binomial regression
  • Malawi
  • Rural road infrastructure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Ecology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science


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