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2011-10-12 | Peer Reviewed

A green revolution betrayed? Seed technology and small-scale maize farmers in Zimbabwe

Leiman, Anthony and Alexander Behar. 2011. “A green revolution betrayed? Seed technology and small-scale maize farmers in Zimbabwe.” Development Southern Africa 28:4: 445-460.
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Since the 1960s both large- and small-scale Zimbabwean maize farmers have been replacing open pollinated varieties (OPVs) with locally developed hybrids. By the 1990s, most were buying hybrid seed, though the adoption rates of new seed types were slowing. With the collapse of the Zimbabwean economy many small farmers returned to planting OPVs and saving seed, not only because hybrid seed was unavailable but also as a rational response to economic risks.

Initially these risks were tied to Zimbabwe’s economic structural adjustment programme, which cut extension services, reduced short-term credit and destabilised maize prices. Subsequently risks increased as land inva- sions on seed producing farms forced the importation of seeds with which small-scale farmers were unfamiliar, and when escalating inflation precluded the use of money as a store of value. Control of inflation, better marketing and restored supplies of local seed should see restored planting of hybrid seed.