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Aims: Maize is of great significance in the national food security of South Africa. Maize production levels in South Africa continue to decline, further deteriorating the situation of increased food insecurity, unemployment and increased poverty levels in the face of increasing population. This paper investigated fundamental variables influencing maize yield in the South African major maize producing regions.
Study Design: A multi-stage stratified sampling method was employed to select maize producing farmers in the major maize producing provinces, namely Mpumalanga, Free State and North West provinces of South Africa. Furthermore, three districts were selected from which maize farmers were then selected.
Methodology: Using linear multiple regression for a sample of 202 maize farmers, maize yield as a dependent variable was regressed against land size, fertilizer usage, labour, herbicides and seeds as independent variables. The paper employed the Cobb-Douglas production function to estimate parameters. The data obtained from the field were subjected to analysis using inferential statistics using SPSS v20.
Results: The study showed that fertilizer, labour, and herbicides used in the production of maize in the study area were positively and statistically significant at a 5% confidence interval (P<0.05) with elasticity coefficients of 0.55, 0.47 and 0.198 respectively. The independent variables computed in the model had positive elasticity coefficients indicating a direct positive relationship between the input variables and maize output. The study also revealed that farmers in the study area were applying fewer amounts of fertilizer than the recommended rates per hectare.
Conclusion: The study recommends that the South African government should supply inputs to maize farmers at subsidized rates to promote correct application rates and attain higher yields. The promotion of good quality extension services to foster good agricultural practices in the production of maize is also recommended.
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