Ghana's agricultural sector is heavily dependent on rainfall, but the rainfall pattern is erratic, making the sector a high-risk venture for many investors. The Upper West Region annually experiences a short rainy season and a relatively long dry season (i.e., October to April). Irrigation is therefore essential for enhancement of agricultural production. A number of earth embankments have been constructed as dams and dugouts have been excavated throughout the region to create water reservoirs for irrigation, especially for dry season farming. However, the irrigation facilities are beset with problems. This paper presents a problem structure analysis of the irrigation systems in the region with the aim of proposing a feasible and sustainable scheme of irrigation infrastructure management. Additionally, a framework for institutionalizing Water Users Associations (WUAs) is developed. A reconnaissance study of selected irrigation facilities across the region identified the major problems. Interview sessions were also conducted with farmers who maintain irrigated plots, and the existing infrastructure was observed. Major challenges identified include a low sense of ownership and responsibility toward the management of the irrigation facilities on the part of the users, leading to their poor maintenance. For sustainable irrigation management, clarification of responsibilities and appropriate role sharing between the users and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture following the principles of Participatory Irrigation Management is recommended. The ministry should be responsible for provision of technical support services, effective monitoring and supervision of the WUAs, whereas the WUAs should ensure adequate maintenance and operation of the irrigation facilities.
A participatory field study was conducted in Tunyo division, Marakwet district, Kenya, to investigate whether there would be a significant response of New Rice for Africa (NERICA) cultivars 1 and 4 to farmyard manure and chemical fertilizers. Seeds were directly sown in 2m×5m plots at a depth of 2-3cm and a spacing of 30cm×1.5cm. The treatments included chemical fertilizer, organic fertilizer (farmyard manure), and control (no fertilizer). In the chemical fertilizer treatment, 2.5g N m−2 was applied as compound fertilizer N: P: K (20: 12: 12) as basal fertilizer at planting, and 2.5g N m−2 using urea (46: 0: 0) as topdressing at panicle initiation stage. In the organic fertilizer treatment, 10.6g N m−2 from farmyard manure (N-0.53%, P-0.62%, K-1.35%) obtained from cattle droppings was applied at planting. The experiment was conducted in two farmers' fields using split plot design with two replicates. Data on days to seed emergence, panicle initiation, heading, flowering and maturity were collected. Plant height and tiller number data were recorded during vegetative growth stage. At harvest, panicle number, panicle length, grain number per panicle, weight of 1,000 grains and paddy yield were measured. Growth pattern, fertilizer response, and post harvest qualities of NEIRCA were evaluated by farmers by means of questionnaires and interviews. Focus group discussions to clarify on farmers' responses were held. Yield increased significantly with fertilizer application, and the yield of NERICA 4 was significantly higher than that of NERICA 1, irrespective of the treatment. Farmers evaluated NERICA 1 as having excellent tillering ability, excellent response to fertilizers, good growth vigor as measured by height and yield, excellent threshability and aroma, very good milling quality, and good eating qualities. Farmers also assessed NERICA 4 as having excellent tillering ability, excellent response to fertilizers, excellent growth vigor, excellent yield, excellent threshability and taste, very good milling properties, and good eating qualities. NERICA 4 performed as well as or better than NERICA 1 in most attributes evaluated in this research. NERICA 1 was preferred for its aroma, while NERICA 4 earned the overall preference by farmer for cultivation owing to its superior yield. This research showed that the participation of farmers in field research strengthens the research-extension-farmer linkage, which could be expected to lead to faster technology transfer and uptake of new farming practices in Kenya.
Approximately 80% of Kenya's population lives in rural areas and derives its livelihood largely from agriculture. Agriculture makes up about 26% of Kenya's gross domestic product, and banana production occupies 2% of Kenya's arable land. Bananas are grown both as a source of food and household income to millions of rural Kenyans; however, production has been declining in the last 2 decades. My objective was to examine banana production and marketing in Kiambu East District, with the aims of improving levels of banana production by small-scale farmers and making recommendations to improve marketing efficiency. A structured questionnaire was given to farmers in 3 Divisions of Kiambu East District: Githunguri, Municipality, and Kiambaa. A frontier production function was established, and results indicated that farmers operated at about 60% of the optimum production level because of technical inefficiency, resulting in low levels of production by individual farmers. If farmers received training on how to manage their traditional bananas and organized into marketing groups, they could improve their bargaining power and increase household income to as much as 3 times current levels. Farmers therefore should form production and marketing groups to grow and market their bananas collectively. Farmers also need to be given management training and financial assistance to grow higher yielding varieties of bananas (e.g., Tissue Culture bananas). In addition farmers need to be trained on indigenous post-harvest technology to realize increased household incomes.
The Upper West Region of Ghana faces a food crisis, and food production needs to be increased. The smallholder farmers who overwhelmingly dominate the region’s agricultural sector have few opportunities to improve agricultural productivity, mainly because of poor extension services, institutional and cultural constraints, and long adaptation to using traditional practices. Major limitations to crop production in Ghana include low soil fertility, low and erratic rainfall, low yield potential of indigenous crop varieties, and poor crop management practices. Most smallholder farmers are ignorant of the potential benefits of improved seed and continue to grow own-saved seed. There is a need for closer interaction with farmers through extension services and on-farm demonstrations to create and increase awareness of the importance of improved seed. Maize demonstration plots were established on farmers’ fields in the Upper West Region to introduce improved maize production technology and facilitate the use of high-yielding maize cultivars. I investigated the impact of these demonstrations on maize yields. For production function estimation, farmers’ data collected in the region in 2006 and 2008 were used. The estimation models showed that area size, labor input, fertilizer application, and seed cost per area (as a proxy of variety) made significant positive contributions to production; there was some positive impact on yield. Farmer-related constraints included poor availability or affordability of inputs such as hybrid seed and fertilizers. Farmers were still resorting to area expansion to increase yields, thus heavily burdening labor requirements. Differences in production of the new cultivars in the on-farm demonstration and from farmer-estimated functions were identified. Such differences highlighted the inefficiencies associated with farmers’ budgetary constraints. To enable farmers to benefit fully from crop demonstrations, the program needs to be continued and expanded to cover more farmers, and channels for inputs and output markets need to be strengthened.
This study investigated soil nutrients and organic matter and their effects on crop production at three sites in the Sekhukhune District of South Africa. Three study sites, Mporwane Project, Fetakgomo Project, and Ikageng Project were selected for the research. Sampling was collected from Ap horizon, at plough depth of 25cm from the three sites The results showed that Fetakgomo project soils pH was higher than that of Ikageng and Mporwane was the lowest of the three sites, further more the pH was higher than required by the crops grown on the site. The electrical conductivity in Mporwane was the lowest of the three sites and Fetakgomo was the highest, the high electrical conductivity in Fetakgomo was a sign of high salt content in the soil which was sufficiently high to interfere with crops growth. Moisture in Fetakgomo and Ikageng soils was greater than Mporwane. Soils in Fetakgomo and Ikageng had high cation exchangeable capacity and exchangeable base than Mporwane. The high exchangeable bases and cation exchangeable capacity were considered to be attributed to clay content of the two sites, and to application of chemical fertilizers; while low soil chemical properties in Mporwane was due to the site soil structure and no application of organic and chemical fertilizers. At the three sites there were different negative effects on crop production and attention was needed to changing farming systems to suit the soil. At Mporwane the soil nutrient contents needed to be improved. Fetakgomo and Ikageng projects had higher soil nutrients content than Mporwane; they also had high salt content, which was affecting plant growth. pH in both Fetakgomo and Ikageng project need to be reduced, proper farming techniques need to be applied to reduce soil salt levels at Fetakgomo and Ikageng projects. The appropriate salt-resistant seeds need to be used to suit the current condition.
We analyzed the current status of basic animal husbandry and health care undertaken by small-scale, mixed-operation farmers in the Jirapa and Lambussie Districts of Ghana. Sixty mixed-operation farmers were interviewed through a structured questionnaire. SAS was used to analyze data grouped by farmers’ age (age groups of 30-39, 40-49, 50-59 and 60-69). The mean total household size of farmers aged 60-69 was found to be significantly higher than the mean household size of farmers in their 30s or 40s. Independent of their age group, agricultural income from crops and from livestock production was not statistically different. The average numbers of both sheep and goats did not differ significantly between the various age groups. Use of veterinary services was highest among farmers of the 50-59 age group, and this group recorded the minimum mortalities of sheep and goats among the four age groups. The proportion of farmers keeping written records was significantly higher in the 40-49 age group than in the other age groups. None of the farmers in the 60-69 age group kept records. The survey indicated that because of the larger family size of the oldest group, the per capita income from livestock production was lower for families of farmers in this age group than for the younger age groups. Livestock mortality was highest for farmers in the 30-39 and 60-69 age groups; in order to increase income from livestock production in these age groups, reducing livestock mortality should receive topmost priority. Farmers recognize the necessity of animal health care especially vaccination and de-worming, but the actual numbers of farmers undertaking these activities appropriately were not captured in the data. It is therefore recommended that further studies be conducted to ascertain figures and determine the challenges associated with vaccinations and treatment of sheep and goats.
Vigna radiata L. and Centella asiatica L. were grown with different concentrations of vermicompost applications in nursery conditions. Four treatments were established to evaluate the growth, biomass and chlorophyll content in these plants. The results suggested that there is a significant increase in growth and related parameters in all the treatments over the control. The plant response was maximum at 20% amendment of vermicompost to soil. The concentration of vermicompost above had no positive effect on plant growth. The physical and chemical properties of vermicompost obtained from four different species of earthworms were also evaluated to assess the quality of vermicompost.
In this research, neural network technology with a Geographical Information System (GIS) was used to carry out land suitability analysis for beetroot. The suitability evaluation of beetroot (Beta Vulgaris) was based mainly on the methods described by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). Study area of this research was in the upcountry of Sri Lanka. Soil properties, meteorological data, current land use and slope accessibility were considered as important factors to identify potential lands for beetroot. Average annual temperature and precipitation (1961-1990 data), topographic, soil and land use maps of the study area were used for the study. Crop requirement criteria were collected from a literature review and from the Department of Agriculture, Sri Lanka. Paper maps were scanned and screen digitized to prepare thematic layers (maps) and then converted to raster format and reclassified. Reclassified layers were converted to ASCII format. The Levenberg-Marquardt (LM) algorithm was used to perform the Artificial Neural Network (ANN) modeling. Finally, a suitability map was prepared according to the given criteria with four suitability categories; namely, highly, moderately, marginally and not suitable. According to the final suitability map of ANN modeling, 10.43%, 31.66% and 7.96% of lands fell respectively under highly, moderately and marginally suitable categories. The results revealed that there was no, “not suitable” land parcel in the present study area. According to these results, we conclude there is moderate potential for growing beetroot in the upcountry of Sri Lanka.
The objectives of this research were: 1) to study principal thoughts and practices for debt solution of farmers in the western region of Thailand as role models in rice growing, livestock raising, integrated farming and application of local wisdom in agriculture, 2) to inquire how young agriculturists can be well-prepared for an agricultural career, and 3) to seek suggestions for policy makers and agencies concerned with debt alleviation of small-scale farmers. Qualitative data collections were employed by using documentary analysis, in-depth interviews and observations in the locale. Five farmers who successfully cultivated local knowledge to solve the debt problems were selected as key informants. Research findings were as follows: 1) principal thoughts and practices for debt solution were based on the application of the teachings of Buddhism, the application of sufficiency economy in the way of life, the utilization of local intellectual in agriculture, group strength and group participation in activities, and farm practices in natural agriculture. 2) To prepare young agriculturists to be ready for an agricultural career, parents implanted love in the agricultural career to their children. Young generation had to be encouraged to realize the importance of local wisdom in agriculture. Academic institutions should encourage students to return and take part in the development of their homeland. Government needs to assure that agriculture is a secure occupation. 3) Suggestions from farmers for concerned policy makers and agencies on debt solution of small-scale farmers were: to provide adequate water sources for farming, to extend the application of sufficiency economy to all households, to expand farmers' groups and their networking, and to reform the educational system focusing on learners' self-realization, and uplift the spirit of love in the homeland.