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Demand for maize hybrids and hybrid change on smallholder farms in Kenya

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Abstract

Kenya is a globally recognized maize “success story.” As the overall percentage of maize farmers growing hybrids tops 80% and the seed industry matures, the slow pace of hybrid replacement on farms, and the continued dominance of the seed industry by Kenya Seed Company, may dampen productivity. Our econometric analysis identifies the factors that explain farmer demand for hybrid seed, and the age of hybrids they grow, considering hybrid seed ownership. Male-headed households with more education, more assets, and more land plant more hybrid seed. Scale of seed demand per farm is differentiated by agroecology. We find a strong farmer response to the seed-to-grain price ratio, which we interpret as evidence of a commercial orientation even on household farms. However, despite the dramatic increase in the number of hybrids sold and the breadth of seed suppliers as seed markets liberalize, an older hybrid still dominates national demand.

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