Technology adoption and household food security among rural households in South Africa: the role of improved maize varieties
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This study aimed to assess the impact of adoption of improved maize varieties on household food security among smallholder farmers in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. A sample of 415 maize producers was analysed using the propensity score matching method, the treatment effect model and the Tobit selection model. The results were consistent across the models, indicating that improved maize varieties positively increased household food security, and that the impact of adoption differed according to the adoption level and socio-economic characteristics of the farmers. The results showed that an additional 1 ha of land under improved maize varieties increases annual food expenditure per capita levels by over R4000. Female farmers were more likely to adopt improved maize varieties, and spent more to ensure household food security, and benefitted more from adoption, than their male counterparts. The findings suggest that policies that seek to increase the land under improved maize varieties among smallholder farmers, especially female farmers who are the majority of these farmers, can play a significant and positive role in increasing the levels of household food security in South Africa through technological innovations. The study recommends that policy makers should aim to facilitate the dissemination of less costly improved seed varieties, target female farmers, and improve their access to information to improve the adoption of technological innovations and food security among the poor farming households in South Africa.