The need for adequate food security is paramount for every country. The recent global economic downturn and the hike-up of food prices call for stringent measures to ensure that food is produce in abundance. Erratic rainfall and unfavourable climatic conditions in the region require farmers to adopt irrigated agriculture to guarantee all year round food production. This research was conducted to find out the contribution of small scale irrigated agriculture in ensuring food security in the Upper West Region. Questionnaires, structured interviews, field survey and focus group discussions were employed in gathering the primary data. Secondary data was also gathered from books and other relevant institutions and ministries. The data collected was analyzed using Statistical Package for the Social Scientists (SPSS) software and other basic statistical tools. It was realized during the research that irrigated agriculture has been very instrumental in improving the lives of people who depend on it. It has improved the economic status and food security situation in communities where irrigation dams are constructed. The irrigation facilities have also employed about 30-40% of the youth in those communities especially people who normally move to the south to seek non-existing jobs. However, it was sad to note that most of the irrigation facilities are poorly maintained and for that matter the full potential of such facilities are hardly realized. The research was concluded with some recommendations.
Parthenium hysterophorus L., a plant indigenous to America has become an aggressive weed in India. Now days, it has been a subject of most intensive investigation throughout the world. The aim of the present investigation was to study the influence of different manures prepared from Parthenium on the productivity and nutrient uptake of maize. A field experiment was conducted at Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University, Aurangabad to evaluate the performance of various manures viz. green manure (GM), compost (CM), vermicompost (VM) and dry leaf manure (DM). For comparison, inorganic fertilizers were also applied at a rate of 120, 80 and 40 kg N, P and K ha-1 respectively. The observations were recorded on morp-physiological traits. On the basis of the results obtained, it is concluded that the application of Parthenium foliage as green manure (GM) was more effective in increasing the yield and nutrient contents of maize, which may biologically control ill effects of this weed in agriculture and social life.
Agro biodiversity is the foundation upon which human civilizations have been built, and its conservation is critical for sustainable development in Africa. In Ghana, land degradation has resulted in serious environmental problems with devastating socio-economic impacts on rural populations. Traditional methods of farming, including slas-and-burn land preparation and repeated mono-cropping on the same field, have led to a loss of organic matter in the soil and contributed to reductions in crop yield. Conservation agriculture (CA) aims to achieve sustainable and profitable agriculture and improved livelihoods of farmers through the application of three key principles: minimal soil disturbance, permanent soil cover, and crop rotation. This evaluation of factors affecting the promotion, adoption, and impacts of no-tillage agriculture revealed the need for agricultural extension agents (AEAs) to be trained in multipurpose conservation farming approaches for sustainable crop production. Currently in Ghana, there is a gap between the development and the delivery, adoption, and maintenance of agricultural technologies, and AEAs have been blamed for failing to transfer technologies developed by agricultural research institutes. Farmers and AEAs need to receive adequate training and education in CA technologies. To meet this objective, a CA manual for extension agents was developed in collaboration with Mr. Kofi Boa (a CA consultant) and AEA training sessions were conducted. A CA training and demonstration site was also created with the support of the Farm Front Services (CA service providers) to provide hands-on training in CA practices in Atwima Nwabiagya District in Ghana.
To improve crop production and soil moisture available to crops in dryland rain-fed conditions, such as those in Laikipia District, Kenya, land management practices that minimize soil structure damage, improve soil organic matter content, and extend the duration of soil moisture to crops must be embraced by farmers. Rainfall is inadequate in this region, and most smallholder farmers till land continuously for long periods, leading to depleted soils that are easily eroded. Conservation agriculture (CA), which incorporates the benefits of soil and water conservation, could offer a solution to these farmers. This study evaluated farmers’ perceptions of and experiences with CA adoption. Pretested questionnaires were administered to 50 smallholder farmers practicing both CA and conventional farming (CF). Basic data on farmers’ gender, age, education, duration of CA practice, and factors that affected their adoption of CA were obtained. Farm yield data for maize (Zea mays L.) and beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) from 10 smallholder farms cultivated under CF and CA were compared during the 2010, 2011, and 2012 rainy seasons. In-depth focus discussions were held to clarify farmers’ responses. The results of the yield comparison showed that grain yield for both crops doubled under CA as compared to CF. This substantial increase in yield could dramatically improve household food security. Despite the benefits of CA and deliberate efforts by the Ministry of Agriculture and stakeholders to promote CA in the district, the adoption rate among smallholder farmers is still low. This study found that, among other factors, lack of tools or equipment and a lack of technical extension staff for CA contributed to its low adoption rate. Because CA can offer increased yield, while also contributing to sustainable agriculture and environmental conservation, CA will remain a viable option for farmers in the district.
Inaccessibility of rural areas in Kenya makes it difficult for smallholder farmers to deliver their produce to markets. A new approach to provide rural access roads was introduced by Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture under the Smallholder Horticulture Empowerment Project (SHEP). This involved technology transfer to teach the do-nou method (a Japanese term for soil bags) to farmer groups. This technology is labor-intensive, but can be applied to spot improvement of roads using only locally available materials, such as used gunny bags (e.g., woven sacks with plastic fiber) and sandy or granular material. Here, we discuss the sustainability of this method. After SHEP was complete, 24% of the groups trained by SHEP staff implemented do-nou versus 13% of indirect groups (who were trained by SHEP trainees). We examined the factors that contributed to implementation of the do-nou method and developed recommendations on how to expand the method to more groups and thereby improve rural access roads. The following factors were key: (1) the group should be located closer than 8 km from a paved road, and the length of the road section to be maintained should be less than 90 m; (2) the terrain and soil type should require little engineering input; (3) materials and transportation must be locally available; (4) stakeholders must become involved; and (5) groups must be empowered and have strong leadership. Based on these findings, we recommend that training be conducted at the farmer group sites, that it should account for feasibility based on terrain and soil type, that farmer groups and their leaders should be empowered to approach stakeholders, and that communities should mobilize themselves to conduct road maintenance. It is also important to sensitize stakeholders about the willingness and ability of the farmers to conduct road maintenance using the do-nou method so that the stakeholders will provide assistance for the road work.
The government of Laos views biogas technology as a vehicle to reduce the poverty of rural smallholders, and as an alternative source of low-cost, renewable energy for rural households or low-income farmers. This study assesses the impacts of installing bio-digesters in the Biogas Pilot Project (BPP), and examines the contribution of biogas technology to improving livelihoods of biogas users. The analysis is based on a detailed survey of a representative sample of existing customers in the BPP pilot areas in Laos. Data on socioeconomic factors affecting farmers’ livelihoods after the installation of bio-digesters were collected for 100 households within 29 districts in the five pilot provinces of Xiangkhuang, Vientiane, Khammouane, Savanakhet and Vientiane Municipality. The smallest size (4m3) of bio-digester was installed by 82% of the surveyed households. Reasons for installing the smallest size included the limited number of livestock owned by households and the high cost of the biogas plant construction. The limited financial resources of rural smallholders make the 2,379 thousand kip (about US$297.50) construction cost for the smallest 4m3 biogas plant size is the main constraint slowing adoption of this technology. Most biogas users (76%) were fully satisfied and 20% were partially satisfied by their bio-digesters. Due to in-sufficient supply of biogas for cooking and lighting, 4% of the households were not satisfied with the gas plants. In addition to reducing the amount and cost of firewood or charcoal, reported benefits included the use of dung residual as a substitute for chemical fertilizer that also reduced costs. Other reported benefits included reduced workload including reduced time collecting firewood, cooking and cleaning cooking utensils. In addition to installation cost, hurdles for adoption of bio-digesters include low cost of fuel wood and in availability of dung near digesters due to free roaming livestock.