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From Betterment to Bt maize

agricultural development and the introduction of genetically modified maize to South African smallholders

Jacobson, Klara (2013). From Betterment to Bt maize. Diss. (sammanfattning/summary) Uppsala : Sveriges lantbruksuniv., Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae, 1652-6880 ; 2013:28
ISBN 978-91-576-7795-2
[Doctoral thesis]

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Agriculture has received renewed attention in poverty reduction efforts in Africa in recent years, and there are hopes that GM crops could have an important role in helping increase smallholder yields and reduce poverty. Drawing on critical discourse analysis (CDA) and livelihoods perspectives, this thesis examines the ideas governing the Massive Food Production Programme (MFPP), an agricultural development programme aiming to reduce poverty by raising agricultural production in Eastern Cape Province, South Africa, and its local effects when implemented in smallholder communities. In particular, the effects of introduction of Bt maize, genetically modified to be resistant to some potentially damaging insects in the region, were studied.

The results reveal that the programme was not equipped to support the improvement of smallholders' livelihoods through agriculture. A core reason was the failure to break with a historically dominant unidirectional view of agricultural development, which was reinforced by a contemporary dominant neoliberal view of development as progress through growth. The programme thereby disregarded the effects of long-term marginalisation on smallholders' ability to engage in farming, and the associated need for substantial advisory, infrastructure and credit support to increase agricultural productivity. Local strategies for dealing with the effects of poverty were also unacknowledged; and practices and inputs originally developed for large-scale, capital-intensive farming were introduced without adaptation to smallholder conditions. The programme also failed to recognise the local heterogeneity of poverty, resulting in a bias towards comparatively better-off smallholders.
The Bt maize variety introduced, like hybrid maize varieties introduced during pre-democracy interventions, was not adapted to smallholders' farming environments. It was input-demanding and sensitive to environmental dynamics, and it was promoted for planting in monoculture. Bans on saving and recycling seed resulting from patents, plant breeders' rights and new regulations to ensure the biosafety of GM crops were largely incompatible with smallholders' practices and further undermined strategies for dealing with resource shortage. It is suggested that cheaper, open-pollinated maize varieties, which can be recycled and are more tolerant to low-input conditions, could be better suited to smallholders' needs and practices.

Authors/Creators:Jacobson, Klara
Title:From Betterment to Bt maize
Subtitle:agricultural development and the introduction of genetically modified maize to South African smallholders
Series Name/Journal:Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
Year of publishing :2013
Number of Pages:155
I.Jacobson, K. (2009). The mismatch between smallholder realities and agricultural development interventions: From 'Betterment' to the massive food production programme. In: Guyot, S. & Dellier, J. (Eds.) Rethinking the wild coast, South Africa: Eco-frontiers vs livelihoods in Pondoland. pp. 191-226. Saarbrücken: VDM Verlag.
II.Hajdu, F., Jacobson, K., Salomonsson, L. & Friman, E. (2012). But tractors can't fly… A transdisciplinary analysis of neoliberal agricultural development interventions. International Journal of Transdisciplinary Research 6(1), 24-64.
III.Jacobson, K. (forthcoming). The massive food production programme: A case study of agricultural policy continuities and changes. In: Hebinck, P. & Cousins, B. (Eds.) In the shadow of policy: Everyday practice in South Africa’s land and agrarian reform. Johannesburg/Leiden: Wits University Press/Brill Academic Publishers.
IV.Jacobson, K. & Hajdu, F. Why are agricultural development programmes not helping the poor? A case study of the massive food production programme in South Africa. Submitted to Geoforum.
V.Jacobson, K. & Myhr, A. I. (2013). GM crops and smallholders: Biosafety and local practice. The Journal of Environment & Development 22(1), 104-124.
Place of Publication:Uppsala
Publisher:Department of Urban and Rural Development, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Associated Programs and Other Stakeholders:SLU - Agricultural Sciences for Global Development > Land use and climate change
SLU - Agricultural Sciences for Global Development > Efficiency in farming systems
SLU - Agricultural Sciences for Global Development > Scale issues in relation to food security and poverty alleviation
ISBN for printed version:978-91-576-7795-2
Publication Type:Doctoral thesis
Full Text Status:Public
Agris subject categories.:C Education, extension, and advisory work > C20 Extension
E Economics, development, and rural sociology > E14 Development economics and policies
E Economics, development, and rural sociology > E50 Rural sociology and social security
F Plant production > F30 Plant genetics and breeding
Subjects:(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 4 Agricultural Sciences > 401 Agricultural, Forestry and Fisheries > Agricultural Science
(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 4 Agricultural Sciences > 404 Agricultural Biotechnology > Plant Biotechnology
(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 5 Social Sciences > 509 Other Social Sciences > Social Sciences Interdisciplinary (Peace and Conflict Research and Studies on Sustainable Society)
Agrovoc terms:zea mays, varieties, genetically modified organisms, agricultural development, food production, development projects, household food security, sustainable livelihoods, smallholders, living standards, south africa
Keywords:agriculture, Bt maize, discourse, development, smallholder, livelihoods, GM crop, GMO, South Africa
Permanent URL:
ID Code:10406
Department:(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
(LTJ, LTV) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
External funders:Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency
Deposited By: Klara Jacobson
Deposited On:08 May 2013 08:25
Metadata Last Modified:02 Dec 2014 11:00

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