"This paper set out to examine the nature of the farm and non-farm employment links in rural Malawi by contrasting two farming systems: smallholder and estate sectors. The smallholder sector is dominated by small owner-operated farms using mainly family labour and producing for both subsistence and market needs, while the estate sector operates large farms managed by agents (recruited farm managers) producing for market needs. The main issue was to investigate spatial dimensions of the links between farm and non-farm employment and the extent to which these links take place within the local economy. The study used a case study qualitative research approach and was conducted in Mchinji District in central Malawi, as the geographic extent of the local economy, where smallholder and estate systems of farming co-exist. These case studies were drawn from a largely agricultural district, with poorly connected road infrastructure and without major manufacturing and service industries. Most of the enterprises operating in the district were family-level enterprises within a very local economy. Nonetheless, there are a number of small towns, known as trading centres, which serve as commercial hubs with a sizeable concentration of the population employed in the service industry. Outside of these trading centres is mostly farm land and unplanned settlements with village-level small grocery shops. These trading centres define the spatial articulation of the farm and non-farm employment links in the district. "