Effect of farmer’s knowledge and attitudes on management of the tomato spotted wilt virus in Sironko District
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Over 80 percent of the population in Uganda live in rural areas and is mainly engaged in subsistence agriculture for their livelihood. Crop farming especially tomato growing is an activity that communities rely on for their livelihoods as well as a source of income for many households in Uganda. Tomatoes contribute to the household income, food and nutritional security yet they are affected by pests and diseases due to poor agronomic practices, lack of improved varieties for high yields and resistance to diseases. Among tomato diseases, tospoviruses have been ranked as the third most important constraint and are spread by thrips as pests and vectors that cause Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus in tomatoes. Therefore, this study was conducted with the objectives of exploring farmer’s knowledge, attitudes and perceptions of tospovirus infection, examining the effect of tospoviruses on farmers’ livelihoods and the management practices used in controlling tospoviruses in tomatoes in Sironko district. A cross sectional research design was used to collect both qualitative and quantitative data through use of questionnaires, focus group discussions, Key informant interviews and field visit observations. Using questionnaires, 360 respondents were interviewed, 20 key informants were purposively selected and interviewed and 3 focus group discussions in the 3 sub counties and observations from nearby farmers’ gardens were done by the farmers and the research. The study findings revealed that farmers producing tomatoes in Sironko district are not knowledgeable about tospoviruses in tomatoes. Tospoviruses have an effect on the livelihoods of the farmers in terms of natural, physical, human, financial and social capital stocks. The farmers reported that tospoviruses affect all the capital stocks either directly or indirectly through the financial stock reductions and the spread of the disease to other crops. Financially, quality and yields produced negatively affected market prices. In line with management practises, farmers always use chemicals like dithane to control diseases irrespective of the disease type. Unlike other diseases, it is important to control vectors that spread tospoviruses than the disease itself. In conclusion, it is important to improve on the knowledge, attitude and perception of the farmers through training like on farm trainings. Effects of tospoviruses on livelihood assets can be improved through organizing the farmers into marketing groups to have a stronger voice that can fetch them better prices for their produce. The management practices can be improved by sensitizing and training farmers on disease identification and use of the recommended sprays for tospoviruses. Tomato farmers need to know the importance of weeding since weeds are hosts for the thrips that spread the tospoviruses.