Assessment of factors affecting adoption of soil fertility improvement technologies in Eastern Kenya: the case of Kirege location, Chuka Division
Adiel, Ruth Kangai
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Declining soil fertility is a key problem faced by most farmers in Eastern Kenya. The problem has been worsened by increased population growth and consequently high demand for agricultural produce. To solve the problem, land users are being encouraged to adopt soil fertility improvement technologies using locally available resources. In a demonstration trial at Kirege Primary School, Chuka division, soil fertility improvement technologies were demonstrated from which farmers were encouraged to voluntarily select and practise on their farms. This study therefore set out to evaluate the extent to which farmers adopted and adapted the demonstrated technologies and also to identify the factors that influenced either adoption or nonadoption of these technologies. A farmer follow-up study was carried out in Chuka division over a period of two cropping seasons. Data were collected using farm surveys, on-farm trials, and visual records. The data were then subjected to logit regression and cost-benefit analysis to determine important variables affecting adoption and the most profitable treatments of the new technology, respectively. The study indicated that the use of inorganic fertilizer, though preferred by most farmers, was low due to the high cost of the fertilizer. Most farmers practiced soil fertility improvement technologies involving the use of cattle manure, which was readily available, though in inadequate quantities to supply the required nutrients. Further, lack of access to credit and inadequate extension services were identified as some of the critical issues limiting effective adoption of soil fertility improvement technologies. Eighty farmers adopted the soil fertility improvement technologies during the 2001 short rains season. During the subsequent two seasons, 163 and 206 farmers representing an increase of 99 and 150% above the initial adopters were practicing the proposed soil fertility improvement technologies. Technologies involving the use of Tithonia diversifolia and Calliandra calothyrsus alone or in combination with inorganic fertilizer were readily adopted due to the high yields obtained. During the first season of farmer follow-up, tithonia plus half rate of inorganic fertilizer gave the highest net benefit (Kshs. 50133 per hectare) followed by the full rate of inorganic fertilizer treatment with a net benefit of Kshs. 37,568. Tithonia treatment had the highest benefit-cost ratio (BCR) of 5.4. Sole manure treatment recorded the lowest net benefit of Kshs. 4601, and hence, the lowest BCR of 0.9. However, during the second season manure plus half-inorganic fertilizer recorded the highest net benefit of Kshs. 41567 with a BCR of 3.7. Farmer practice involving no input had the lowest BCR of 0.2 with a net benefit of Kshs. 9853. Constraints to the adoption of the proposed soil fertility improvement strategies were identified as inadequate labor, inadequate organic and inorganic resources and reluctance due to fear of failure. Gender, farmer's occupation, land size, and land under food crops, were identified as major factors significantly affecting adoption of soil fertility improvement technologies. In conclusion there is need for the researchers to put in mind the factors that might affect adoption of a technology in order to have high adoption rates in any given area.