Does raising maize yields lead to poverty reduction? A case study of the Massive Food Production Programme in South Africa
Flora Hajdu presents results from a recent research project on the effects on smallholders of the MFPP and AsgiSA agricultural development programmes in the Eastern Cape. The project resulted in two papers as well as a PhD thesis entitled “From Betterment to Bt maize: “Agricultural Development and the introduction of Genetically Modified Maize to South African Smallholders” by Klara Jacobson. This presentation will focus on a paper on poverty-related aspects, where we show that the poorer smallholders faced various difficulties in securing benefits from these programmes. The one-dimensional view of the programmes of ‘raising effectiveness’ in smallholder agriculture through raising yields is questioned. Furthermore, smallholders are shown to barely have noticed the insect resistance of the GM maize - instead other properties of the ‘new maize’, which could equally well be found in much cheaper hybrid or open pollinated varieties of maize, were important to the poor.
Flora will also talk briefly about her current plans to seek funding from Sweden for researching the potential of cash transfers in South Africa.