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Abstract

While Malawi’s per capita cereal production may be higher than her per capita cereal consumption, Malawi is a net cereal importer and thus food insecure. The food situation is much worse in Malawi’s prisons because inmates generally eat one meal per day. The general objective of this study was to determine food budget shares and elasticities for the food stuffs commonly eaten in Malawi’s prisons. Using structured questionnaires in face to face interviews, the study collected data from 1000 prisoners and 30 officers-in-charge from all prisons in the country. The data was analysed using Stata 12 and employed the quadratic almost ideal demand system (QUAIDS) model as an analytical tool. Results from the analysis showed that budget shares for maize and beans were high as reflected by the fact that 86.5 per cent of the prison food budget was spent on these two food items while 6.8 per cent was spent on meat and vegetables. Maize was inelastic while meat, beans and salt were elastic with the own-price elasticity for meat being the highest. Expenditure elasticities for maize, meat and beans, at above unity, showed that these food items were luxuries in Malawi’s prisons.

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