Enhancing smallholder farmers’ awareness of gm maize technology, management practices and compliance to stewardship requirements in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa: the role of public extension and advisory services
Van den Berg, J.
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Genetically modified (GM) maize technology adoption is subject to compliance with stewardship requirements that promote the long-term effectiveness of the technology against target pests and weeds. Awareness of the value of these requirements can enhance farmer compliance and promote the adoption of improved management practices. A semi-structured questionnaire was used to interview 210 smallholder GM maize farmers in the Eastern Cape to assess farmers’ awareness and compliance to GM maize technology stewardship requirements. Field surveys were also conducted to identify the practices adopted for the cultivation of GM maize. Results indicated that farmers lacked access to information about GM maize and had a low level of awareness of GM maize stewardship requirements. Additionally, while the use of Bt maize resulted in fewer farmers reporting pest incidence, notably that of the maize stem borer, Busseola fusca (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) on their farms, for some reason, there was an increase in the proportion of farmers that sprayed and relied solely on insecticides for controlling pests on Bt maize. A high proportion of farmers (71.4%) also relied solely on herbicide sprays for controlling weeds in their herbicide tolerant maize fields. Field surveys also indicated non-compliance to the requirement for the planting of refuge areas adjacent to Bt maize. Training of extension service personnel on stewardship requirements for GM maize is urgently needed to improve its management and prevent loss of the benefits provided by GM maize technology