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Determinants Of Food Security Status Amongst Smallholder Farmers Utilizing Different Maize Varieties In OR Tambo District, South Africa

Ardinesh Kambanje, Amon Taruvinga, Abbyssinia Mushunje, Charles Mutengwa, Saul Ngarava

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Maize is an important staple crop for poverty reduction and global food security in Sub Saharan Africa. Food insecurity can be combated through adoption of productivity improving technologies, which include improved maize varieties. In that endeavour, South Africa has promoted various improved maize varieties which include open pollinated varieties (OPVs), hybrids, and genetically modified (GM) varieties. Despite this, the traditional landrace varieties have also been dominating in the country. However, the household food insecurity problem in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa may signify a mis-match between maize varieties being promoted amongst smallholder farmers’ and their needs. It therefore necessitates a scrutiny of the food security status among users of different maize varieties, and the determinants of such food security. A cross sectional survey was conducted in Port St Johns, Mqanduli and Flagstaff in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. Data was purposively collected from a sample of 650 smallholder farmers using a structured questionnaire. Descriptive statistics, Household Food Insecurity Access Score and ordinal logistic regression model were employed to characterize, examine the household food insecurity status and the determinants, respectively. Fifty-six percent of the respondents were utilizing land race maize varieties, whilst 29% GMs, 10% combining GMs and landrace, 4% improved OPVs and 1% convectional hybrids. The average land area under maize was 1.09 hectares with average yields (t/ha) of 1.9, 0.5, 1.7 and 1.6 for GM, landrace, conventional hybrids and improved OPVs respectively. Fifty-five percent of households utilizing GM varieties and 61% of those combining maize varieties were food secure. The regression model showed that maize variety had significant influence on food security. The study found that GM maize, improved OPV, white maize and combination effects of GM maize was associated with reduction of household food insecurity. From the study, it can be put into perspective that use of white and improved maize varieties reduces household food insecurity. Therefore, to address household food insecurity, the study recommended targeting white maize varieties, especially GM white maize varieties which are highly productive and a positive influence on household food security.