Adoption of drought tolerant maize varieties among smallholder maize farmers in Kamuli and Masindi Districts
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Drought tolerant maize varieties (DTMs) are a great contributing factor in addressing the challenge of low maize yields for most rural households who continue to suffer prolonged drought periods as a result of climate change. The overall aim of this study was to assess the status of adoption of drought tolerant maize varieties (DTMs) by smallholder farmers in Masindi and Kamuli districts. Using survey data from 190 farm households, the study sought to characterise smallholder maize farmers in the two districts, assess Drought Tolerant maize attributes preferred by smallholder maize farmers, determine the rate of adoption and factors that influence the adoption of drought tolerant maize varieties in Masindi and Kamuli districts. The results indicated that adopters and non-adopters of drought tolerant maize (DTM) varieties significantly differed in terms of marital status, main occupation, access to credit, self-sufficiency in maize production, age, income, years of schooling, land owned, area under maize, experience in maize production and quantity of maize produced. Results also showed that limitations such as high prices, limited awareness, fertilizer requirement, limited access to seed and susceptibility to pests and diseases were responsible for poor adoption of DTMs. In addition, the most highly ranked DTM variety attributes by farmers was grain yield (66.3%). Other attributes that were preferred by farmers included; drought tolerance (18.9%), early maturity (13.7%), grain-flour ratio (9.5%), pests and diseases resistance (5.3%), tolerance to poor soils (1.1%) and lodging resistance (0.5%). The key factors influencing adoption of DTM were; awareness of drought tolerant maize varieties, experience in maize farming, level of formal education, distance to the source of seed, occurrence of drought and the price per kilogram of maize seed. It is thus recommended that more emphasis be put on extension and farmer trainings to increase awareness of the available DTMs. In addition to this, government programmes involved in provision of maize seed to farmers, such as Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) and other development partners should consider procurement of DTMs for supply to drought prone areas. Drought tolerant maize breeding programmes should try to incorporate early maturity, high yielding, weight, bigger grain, more cobs per plant since they were highly ranked by smallholder.