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Seeds of Hope: Agricultural Technologies and Poverty Alleviation in Rural South Africa
Mercatus Policy Series (2006)
  • Karol C. Boudreaux
Despite having the largest economy in Africa, many of South Africa’s citizens grapple with poverty. For rural residents especially, poverty is pervasive, and hunger a very real threat. Government efforts to improve the lives of smallholder farmers and other rural residents are slow to bear fruit. Monsanto South Africa addresses these needs with its Combi- Pack, a box containing enough maize seed, herbicide, and fertilizer to plant ¼ hectare of maize. Combi-Packs are part of the phenomenon known as marketing to the “bottom of the pyramid.” Large corporations design and sell products and services to very low-income consumers, billions of individuals who as a group have substantial purchasing power. Farmers in KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga provinces who use Combi-Packs along with no-till, or minimum-till, agriculture have increased maize yields, which is helping to alleviate poverty. Furthermore, Combi-Packs combined with no and minimum till agriculture have had beneficial effects for the environment, reducing erosion, and conserving water. Combi-Packs will not solve all the problems of rural poverty. Land tenure insecurity, high banking costs, and rigid labor laws continue to plague the farmers.
  • agriculuture,
  • South Africa,
  • property rights,
  • entrepreneurship
Publication Date
September, 2006
Citation Information
Karol C. Boudreaux. "Seeds of Hope: Agricultural Technologies and Poverty Alleviation in Rural South Africa" Mercatus Policy Series Vol. Policy Comment No. 6 (2006)
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