Gender-differentiated relative preference for sweetpotato traits and its drivers among farmers in Central Uganda : a case of Mpigi District
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Due to low sweetpotato productivity in Uganda, objectives of sweetpotato breeders have been largely based on yield enhancement. However, farmers adopt new varieties depending on how well their preferred crop traits have been incorporated by breeders. Understanding farmers’ relative preferences for varietal traits is necessary for breeders to set their breeding priorities in a more demand-driven way. Therefore, using data collected among sweetpotato growers in Mpigi district through FGDs and IDIs, this study investigated male and female farmers’ preferences for sweetpotato traits. It also employed multinomial logit regression to examine factors affecting choice of most preferred sweetpotato traits. IDIs were conducted with 377 female and 415 male farmers. Additionally, FGDs were conducted among 27 female and 23 male FGD groups. High root yield and tolerance to stressful conditions caused by drought and poor soils were the major traits across gender categories in both FGDs and IDIs. Output-oriented traits were generally the most frequently selected traits. An additional year in farmers’ age increased their probability of choosing output-oriented traits by 14%. Yet, an additional year of formal education reduced the probability of choosing output-oriented traits by 8%. The probability of choosing output-oriented traits was 7% lower for farmers growing local varieties and 19% higher for farmers who did not store sweetpotato. There were disparities in combinations of traits most preferred by farmers based on data from FGDs and IDIs implying that participatory plant breeding needs to be individual-based as the decision to grow a specific crop variety is also individual-based. In addition, despite the importance of output-oriented traits, they should not be emphasized at the expense of other traits most preferred by farmers in their respective contexts. Sweetpotato varieties with such traits should be mainly promoted among older farmers and those who do not store sweetpotato. Breeders should emphasize improving risk-averting traits when developing varieties for more educated farmers. They should improve local varieties by introducing productivity-enhancing traits without losing the indigenous root eating quality and appearance traits.