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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Can the Poor Help GM (Genetically Modified) Crops? Technology, Representation and Cotton in the Makhathini Flats, South Africa
Authors:Witt, Harald
Patel, Rajeev
Schnurr, Matthew
Periodical:Review of African Political Economy
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:economic behaviour
small farms
genetic engineering
Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment
Development and Technology
External link:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03056240601000945
Abstract:This paper examines the adoption of GM (genetically modified) cotton by small-scale farmers in the Makhathini Flats area, Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa, contextualizing the laudatory findings of some researchers and placing Makhathini's cotton monoculture in a longer history of imperial export agriculture, technology and policy. It draws on thirty in-depth interviews with the leaders of cotton-growing associations, interviews with local government officials, growers and processors, suppliers of inputs, together with debt data from regional and national creditors, data from the cotton industry, the findings from three workshops involving a total of 80 farmers from the area, as well as survey data covering 50 residents. The adoption of GM cotton in Makhathini Flats in 1998 was heralded as a case in which agricultural biotechnology could benefit smallholder farmers, and a model for the rest of the continent to follow. The paper argues, however, that Makhathini's structured institutional framework privileges adopters of GM technologies through access to credit and markets. The adoption of GM cotton is symptomatic not of farmers' endorsement of GM technology, but a sign of the profound lack of choice facing them in the region. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract, edited]