Adoption Intensity, Perception and Profitability of Organic Based Soil Fertility Management Technologies in Murang’a and Tharaka-Nithi Counties, Kenya
Mwaura, George Gacheru
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There have been major efforts to introduce and promote organic based technologies among the smallholder farmers to address low and declining soil fertility. Despite these efforts, adoption of these organic based technologies has been dismal. This study aimed to; (1) determine the socio-economic factors that influence adoption intensity of organic based technologies for soil fertility management, (2) determine perceived benefits by farmers of using organic based technologies, and (3) determine the profitability of using organic based technologies for managing soil fertility. The study was carried out in two subcounties; Meru-South and Gatanga where these organic based technologies have been introduced and promoted previously. The study adopted a survey research design. A sample of 150 households selected randomly from each study area were interviewed. Tobit regression model was used to analyse the adoption intensity of organic based technologies. Nine organic based technologies were adopted. Socio-economic factors that influenced the adoption intensity in Murang’a were gender of the household (+), age (-), level of education (+), household size (+), access to external labour (+), training (+), total livestock unit (+), total land under cultivation (+), title deed ownership (+), agricultural group membership (+), household access to credit (+). In Tharaka-Nithi, the following were determinants of adoption intensity gender of the household (+), education level (+), size of the household (+), access to external labour (+), years of experience (+), training (+), total livestock unit (+), land under cultivation (+), title deed ownership (+), agricultural group membership (+), access to credit (+). The study further examined farmer perception. The perceptions were based on four variables; potential to improve soil fertility, potential to improve yields, profitability and labour requirements of organic based inputs. To analyse farmers’ perceptions, an ordered logit regression model was fitted into the data. Farmers’ perception results showed that majority of the respondents in Murang’a (115, 76.7%) and Tharaka-Nithi (104, 69.3%) strongly agreed that organic based technologies can improve yields. Factors that influenced perception were gender (-), household size (+), external labour (+), total livestock unit (+), group membership (+), training (+), land under cultivation (-), and credit access (+). Financial analysis of the maize enterprise was carried out using the gross margin analysis. Manure and manure+fertilizer was considered, while sole inorganic fertilizer was included in the analysis for comparison purposes. Gross margins showed that in Murang’a manure+fertilizer yielded 1962 Kgha-1, manure yielded 1820Kgha-1, and inorganic fertilizer recorded 1483 Kgha-1. In Tharaka-Nithi, manure +fertilizer yielded 1940 Kgha-1, manure yielded 1723 Kgha-1, inorganic fertilizer 1689 Kgha-1. Manure reported higher gross margins (44074) in Murang’a while manure+fertilizer showed higher gross margins (45625) in Tharaka-Nithi. This study recommends using organic-based inputs because they have been perceived to have the potential to increase crop yields and improve soil fertility. Also, the gross margins of sole manure and manure+fertilizer were higher than the gross margins of sole fertilizer.