Zambian farmers have extensive experience with maize hybrids and input subsidies. Like other countries in Eastern and Southern Africa, the successful development and diffusion of improved maize seed in Zambia during the 1970s and 1980s was supported by strong 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 sharply. In 2002, concerned that national food security might be jeopardized, the government reinstated subsidies for fertilizers and maize seed through the Farmer Input Support Program (FISP), which had the stated goal of building the resource base of smallholder farmers. This analysis explores smallholder demand for hybrid maize seed by subsidy receipt. We test the hypothesis that the hybrid maize subsidy in Zambia is selectively biased due in part to its delivery mechanism and the self-selection of farmers who are able or choose to exercise their claim. Our analysis found that farmers with a lower poverty headcount are more likely to receive subsidized seed. In addition, a segment of farmers with a high predicted demand for hybrid seed are not reached by FISP - and they are poorer in terms of land and income than those who obtain the subsidy. These farmers represent a potentially important demand segment for HarvestPlus, which might consider addressing their needs through means other than a subsidy program.
Smale, M.; Birol, E. Smallholder Demand for Maize Hybrids and Selective Seed Subsidies in Zambia. HarvestPlus Working Paper No. 9. (2013) 21 pp.