The successful development and diffusion of improved maize seed in Zambia during the 1970s–80s was a major achievement of African agriculture but was predicated on a government commitment to parastatal grain and seed marketing, the provision of services to maize growers, and a pan-territorial pricing scheme that was fiscally unsustainable. Declining maize output when this system was dismantled contributed to the reinstatement in 2002 of subsidies for maize seed and fertilizer through the Fertilizer and Farmer Input Support Programs (FISP). In the meantime, seed liberalization has led to an array of new, improved maize varieties, most of which are hybrids. This analysis explores the determinants of demand for first-generation (F1) hybrid maize seed in Zambia based on a survey of maize growers during the 2010/11 cropping season. We estimate the determinants of demand with a control function approach to handle the potential endogeneity of the binary variable measuring subsidy receipt and compare determinants of demand between female and male seed decisionmakers. We find that hybrid seed use in Zambia is still very much an “affair of state” in that farmers’ use of F1 hybrids is explained largely by inclusion in FISP. The quality (literacy) of the labor supply, the ratio of active labor to dependents in the household, sources of information, and length of residence in the village are predictors of maize seed subsidy receipt. Overall, we find that male and female seed decisionmakers may represent distinct demand segments. The fact that the percentage of seed decisionmakers who are women is much higher than the percentage of women who are de jure or de facto household heads has implications for the design of extension strategies and variety promotion.
Smale, M.; Mason, N. Demand for Maize Hybrids, Seed Subsidies, and Seed Decisionmakers in Zambia. HarvestPlus Working Paper No. 8. (2012) 21 pp.