A situation analysis of priority farm enterprises and technology adoption status in the South West highlands of Uganda
Nanyeenya, W. N.
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The study was motivated by the fact that despite availability of technologies capable of solving farmers’ constraints, adoption of relevant technology has been insufficient to address the constraints. Situations of low and in some cases declining productivity and incomes therefore contradict the national economic development objective of ‘prosperity for all’ that aims at developing a modern, market oriented and commercialised agricultural sector. This paper presents the results from a study that set out to examine prospects of agricultural technology in enhancing farm productivity, rational resource utilization and farmers’ livelihoods. Qualitative data used were obtained using semi-formal and formal studies from seven sub-counties selected from Kabale, Kanungu, Kisoro and Rukungiri districts. Informal survey data heavily relied on PRA techniques. These were supplemented by secondary data, key informant interviews and direct observations. The situational analysis survey relied on formal data collection procedure using a questionnaire. Data collected focused on: local farming systems and major enterprises; farm domestic resources and constraints; current mechanisms for technology packaging and dissemination; gender related and spatially oriented technology practices, needs and challenges; benefits of improved technology; and effectiveness of different technology packaging techniques and dissemination approaches in various farm typologies. Findings from both the qualitative and questionnaire survey showed that Solanum potatoes, bush beans, climbing beans, vegetables, bananas, coffee and sweet potatoes are the major crop enterprises in the region. With respect to livestock enterprises, local breeds under traditional management systems characterized the common species raised in the zone, and Goats and cattle are the dominant livestock species kept in the region. Notably exotic dairy cattle breeds were raised as a priority enterprise in less than 20 per cent of the households sampled. . Technology adoption was more prominent for priority crops compared to priority livestock enterprises. In crops, technology adoption emphasized crop rotations, spacing, pesticide application and soil and water conservation aspects of production as opposed to pre-production and post harvest management. Low prices for milk, banana and Irish potatoes, lack of improved and clean planting materials for especially bush and climbing beans, sweet potatoes and Irish potatoes grossly constrained production. Regular deworming was the dominant livestock technology adopted. Livestock production was particularly constrained by lack of improved breeds, feeding, housing and health management technologies. Improved feeding and breeds were however the key technology gaps for livestock. Farmer exchange visits and trainings were the most effective technology dissemination approaches. Small scale irrigation was proposed as a remedy to counter effects of water stress especially for vegetable production. Findings on the sex of decision makers in the households suggest that both women and men farmers should be targeted for technology intervention. It was noted that whereas there exists relevant technologies from NARO that can address farmers’ constraints there is general lack of information about their existence. It was suggested that NARO publishes a list of all technology packages and provide copies to all districts. It is recommended that technology promotion be refocused to address gaps in raising yields of improved seed and planting materials as well as post harvest handling for crops. Due attention be accorded to the livestock technology gaps particularly lack of improved feeds and breeds. Attainment of higher farm incomes to achieve the ‘prosperity for all’ objective should be addressed by fostering sustained adoption of productivity enhancing technologies and tripling of sales to gain escape velocity from poverty . This should be done mainly by combining farmer training and exchange visits. These should be supplemented by simple radio messages, posters, leaflets and brochures tailored to technology gaps relevant to priority enterprises in the sub-county targeted.