Maize is one of the most important crops grown by smallholder farmers in Amatole and O.R. Tambo Districts of the Eastern Cape Province. Improved open pollinated varieties of maize have been shown by studies to be relatively drought tolerant as compared to hybrids, and can be a valuable step if adopted and used by smallholder farmers. This study assessed the factors that influence the demand for improved maize OPVs in the Eastern Cape Province by smallholder farmers. One hundred and thirty seven sample households were interviewed using a structured questionnaire. The demand model that employed a multiple regression model was used, and data was analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences computer software. Results showed that extension contact, access to credit, availability of household income and proportion of land area under cultivation, positively influenced the demand for the improved maize OPVs whereas the unavailability of the improved maize OPV seeds on the local shops, proportion of land area under hybrids and landraces and perceptions on seed color negatively influenced the demand for the improved maize OPVs. The findings confirm the role of improved access to extension, access to credit, household income, land sizes, farmers’ perceptions and the availability of the improved OPV seeds on the market are crucial for decision making and planning in determining the uptake and use of improved maize OPVs.
Key words: Demand, Eastern Cape province, hybrids, improved open pollinated varieties (OPVs), smallholder farmers.
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