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Institutional change and discontinuities in farmers' use of hybrid maize seed and fertilizer in Malawi : findings from the 1996-97 CIMMYT/MoLD Survey

Author: Smale, M.
Author: Phiri, A.
Year: 1998
ISSN: 0258-8587
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10883/954
Descriptors: Economic analysis
Descriptors: Fertilizer application
Descriptors: High yielding varieties
Descriptors: Innovation adoption
Descriptors: Maize
Descriptors: Small farms
Abstract: This study records the use of hybrid maize seed and fertilizer by small-scale farmers in Malawi, as well as their opinions about these inputs, from 1989-90 through 1996-97. Its main purpose is to determine whether the principal constraint to smallholders' use of maize hybrids is the acceptability of the hybrid maize germplasm or the institutional reforms and policies affecting its use. The study also provides information about the practice that has implications for the impact of seed technologies and seed industries - the recycling of nonconventional hybrids (i.e., saving seed of an f1 hybrid to plant in subsequent seasons). Findings of the most recent farmer survey in 1996-97 demostrate that the grain quality or yield characteristics of maize hybrids no longer constrain smallholders' use of F1 hybrid seed. Farmers stated almost unanimously that they wanted to grow F1 hybrid seed, but most could not purchase as much seed as they wished. A large number of farmers recycle hybrid seed, which is not surprising, given the early stages of diffusion of hybrid maize in Malawi, the start-stop nature of policies affecting input use, and free seed distributed by the government and NGOs. It may be worthwhile for researchers to investigate prospects for producing hybrids whose characteristics resist deterioration from recycling. Aside from this plant breeding issue, pressing concerns of national maize production, food security, and the welfare of smallholders remain to be addressed. Farmers with the resources to use credit, purchase inputs, grow cash crops, or produce maize surpluses represent a smaller and smaller percentage of farmers. It is doubtful whether complete reliance on private initiatives can transform the smallholder maize sector in a country thar relies on agriculture as much as Malawi, but where infrastructure is inadequate, nonfarm employment opportunities are few, and incentives are insufficient to mobilize trade and generate cash in rural areas.
Language: English
Publisher: CIMMYT
Serie: CIMMYT Economics Working Paper
Copyright: CIMMYT manages Intellectual Assets as International Public Goods. The user is free to download, print, store and share this work. In case you want to translate or create any other derivative work and share or distribute such translation/derivative work, please contact CIMMYT-Knowledge-Center@cgiar.org indicating the work you want to use and the kind of use you intend; CIMMYT will contact you with the suitable license for that purpose.
Type: Book
Region: Eastern Africa
Region: Southern Africa
Place: Mexico
Pages: vi, 38 pages
Serie number: 98-01


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  • Maize
    Maize breeding, phytopathology, entomology, physiology, quality, and biotech
  • Socioeconomics
    Including topics such as farming systems, markets, impact & targeting, innovations, and GIS

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