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Smallholder Demand for Maize Hybrids and Selective Seed Subsidies in Zambia

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  • Smale, Melinda
  • Birol, Ekin

Abstract

Zambian farmers have long experience with maize hybrids and input subsidies. The successful development and diffusion of improved maize seed in Zambia during the 1970s–80s was supported by government commitment to parastatal grain and seed marketing and subsidized provision of services to maize growers. When this system was dismantled under fiscal duress, production of the nation’s staple food—maize—declined. In 2002, concerned that national food security might be jeopardized, the government reinstated subsidies for fertilizers and maize seed with the stated goal of building the resource base of smallholders. We test the hypothesis that the subsidy on hybrid seed use in Zambia is selectively biased both by the delivery mechanism and through self-selection of farmers who choose to exercise their claim. We find that the subsidy is a recursive determinant of seed demand but its recipients have more land, more income, and lower poverty rates. In 2010, we estimate that 14% of smallholders had a high predicted demand for hybrid seed but did not grow it—and were not reached by the program. This paper contributes to an emerging body of literature that documents the effects of the new generation of “smart” input subsidies in Africa, with a focus on seed (as compared to fertilizer), and a detailed exploration of demand segments.

Suggested Citation

  • Smale, Melinda & Birol, Ekin, 2013. "Smallholder Demand for Maize Hybrids and Selective Seed Subsidies in Zambia," 2013 Fourth International Conference, September 22-25, 2013, Hammamet, Tunisia 161474, African Association of Agricultural Economists (AAAE).
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:aaae13:161474
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.161474
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Smale, Melinda & Mason, Nicole M., 2013. "Hybrid Seed, Income, and Inequality among Smallholder Maize Farmers in Zambia," Food Security Collaborative Working Papers 146929, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
    2. Melinda Smale & Eliab Simpungwe & Ekin Birol & Girma Tesfahun Kassie & Hugo de Groote & Raphael Mutale, 2015. "The Changing Structure of the Maize Seed Industry in Zambia: Prospects for Orange Maize," Agribusiness, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 31(1), pages 132-146, January.

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