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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/ MoALD Survey

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  • Smale, Melinda
  • Phiri, Alexander

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 a 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 demonstrate 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 that 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.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CIMMYT: International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in its series Economics Working Papers with number 7674.

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Date of creation: 1998
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ags:cimmew:7674

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Keywords: Crop Production/Industries;

References

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  1. Jappelli, Tullio, 1990. "Who Is Credit Constrained in the U.S. Economy?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(1), pages 219-34, February.
  2. Smale, Melinda & Heisey, Paul W & Leathers, Howard D, 1995. "Maize of the Ancestors and Modern Varieties: The Microeconomics of High-Yielding Variety Adoption in Malawi," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 43(2), pages 351-68, January.
  3. Zeller, Manfred & Ahmed, Akhter U. & Babu, Suresh Chandra & Broca, Sumiter S. & Diagne, Aliou & Sharma, Manohar, 1996. "Rural finance policies for food security of the poor," FCND discussion papers 11, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  4. Kydd, Jonathan & Christiansen, Robert, 1982. "Structural change in Malawi since independence: Consequences of a development strategy based on large-scale agriculture," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 10(5), pages 355-375, May.
  5. Jonathan Kydd, 1989. "Maize research in Malawi: Lessons from failure," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 1(1), pages 112-144, January.
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Cited by:
  1. Simtowe, Franklin & Zeller, Manfred & Diagne, Aliou, 2009. "The Impact of credit constraints on the adoption of hybrid maize in Malawi," 2009 Conference, August 16-22, 2009, Beijing, China 51627, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
  2. Morris, Michael L. & Risopoulos, Jean & Beck, David, 1999. "Genetic Change in Farmer-Recycled Maize Seed: A Review of the Evidence," Economics Working Papers 7683, CIMMYT: International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center.
  3. Diagne, Aliou & Zeller, Manfred, 2001. "Access to credit and its impact on welfare in Malawi:," Research reports 116, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

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