Disseminating genetically modified (GM) maize technology to smallholder farmers in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa: extension personnel’s awareness of stewardship requirements and dissemination practices
Advice and technical information from extension services are critical in promoting new technologies and their adoption by farmers. This study determined extension personnel’s awareness of GM maize technology and the associated extension services they provide to smallholder GM maize farmers in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with extension staff of the Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform (DRDAR) in the province. Results indicated that inadequate training of extension personnel on GM maize technology influenced their perceptions of GM maize technology and awareness of its stewardship requirements. Generally, personnel had a low level of awareness of GM maize technology as a pest control strategy. Awareness of GM maize stewardship requirements amongst extension personnel was also low. These extension personnel disseminated GM maize technology, which they generally perceived as a high-yield technology, to smallholder farmers using non-participatory approaches and media sourced from GM seed companies. The findings of this study suggest that ensuring safe and sustainable adoption of GM maize technology on smallholder farms will require a more participatory extension approach that emphasizes smallholder farmers’ access to information as well as the training of extension personnel on the stewardship requirements and dissemination practices associated with GM maize cultivation.
Keywords: Dissemination, extension, GM maize technology, smallholders, stewardship