Journal of
Development and Agricultural Economics

  • Abbreviation: J. Dev. Agric. Econ.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2006-9774
  • DOI: 10.5897/JDAE
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 544

Full Length Research Paper

An evaluation on the profitability of growing improved maize open pollinated varieties in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa

Melusi Sibanda*
  • Melusi Sibanda*
  • Department of Agriculture, University of Zululand, P. Bag X1001, KwaDlangezwa, 3886, South Africa.
  • Google Scholar
Abbyssinia Mushunje
  • Abbyssinia Mushunje
  • Department of Agricultural Economics and Extension, University of Fort Hare, P. Bag X1314, Alice 5700, South Africa.
  • Google Scholar
Charles Shelton Mutengwa
  • Charles Shelton Mutengwa
  • Department of Agronomy, University of Fort Hare, P. Bag X1314, Alice 5700, South Africa.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 13 June 2014
  •  Accepted: 02 February 2015
  •  Published: 31 January 2016


This study examined the profitability of growing Open Pollinated Varieties (OPVs) of maize against hybrids in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. Studies have shown that improved OPVs of maize can be a valuable step for smallholder farmers in semi-arid areas as they are relatively drought tolerant when compared to hybrids. Thirteen maize varieties were evaluated extensively by on-farm trials in selected areas under dry land and irrigated conditions. Nine were newly introduced and improved Open Pollinated Varieties (OPVs), while four were locally grown varieties. Among the locally grown varieties, one was a hybrid-check, while the remaining three were improved OPVs. The objective of this study was to assess the profitability of growing improved maize OPVs compared with hybrids. The Gross Margin analysis was employed to compute the gross margins of improved maize OPVs and hybrids. Results show that the hybrid PAN 6479 variety in general performed better than improved maize OPVs across all environments whereas in some areas, the improved maize OPVs had better gross margins and gross profit margins than the hybrid variety. The indicated genotypes however did not show specific adaptation to selected environments. From the results of the study, it could be put into perspective that it would be profitable to grow improved maize OPVs in the Eastern Cape Province by smallholder farmers given that the Province is semi-arid and farmers are resource-poor. On the other hand, hybrids require high-level use of inputs that could be costly for smallholder farmers.

Key words: Gross margins (GM), gross profit margins, hybrids, open pollinated varieties (OPVs), profitability, smallholder farmers.