Factors Influencing Uptake of Improved Sorghum (Sorghum Bicolor) Technologies in Embu County, Kenya
Agricultural extension and technology transfer services play a vital role in disseminating research knowledge, skills and income generating strategies among the farming communities in Kenya. However, there exists a gap in the flow of information and technologies developed in research stations and what is implemented by the farmers on the farms. Sorghum is a third staple grain food for millions of people, animals and source of industrial raw material in marginal regions of Africa. Despite considerable research efforts towards improving sorghum production, a negligible number of farmers in marginal areas are adopting improved sorghum technologies. The purpose of this study was therefore to assess factors influencing and contributing to the uptake of improved sorghum technologies among smallholders in Embu County Kenya. The study employed a descriptive survey design. Multistage purposive sampling and proportionate allocation techniques were used to select 129 respondents from four villages. Besides the 51 extension agents purposefully selected to participate in the study, pre-tested and semi-structured questionnaires were administered to respondents through face-to-face interviews. In addition, Likert scale was used to evaluate the agents‟ perception on factors influencing uptake of improved technologies. Both primary and secondary data was collected based on variables such as the farmers‟ bio-demographic, agricultural extension approaches, socio-economic characteristics institutional factors, agricultural agents‟ characteristics and techniques promoting technologies dissemination. xiii The findings revealed that 83% of respondents were women and 67% were engaged in improved sorghum production technologies. Besides, 56% of the farmers aged between 20 to 49 years had embraced the growing of improved sorghum varieties Gadam and Sila 1. In addition, agricultural agents, mobile phone text messages and radio programmes coded in local dialect were the main extension approaches influencing uptake of improved sorghum technologies among small scale farmers. Besides the 70% of the farmers who individually owned lands, 68% had taken up growing of improved of sorghum varieties on less than half acre of land. In addition, majority (91%) of the farmers accessed and used financial and agronomics training support services from experienced extension agents. There was a strong association between extension approaches and uptake of improved sorghum technologies with use of agricultural shows (χ²=8.17), contact farmers (χ²=9.01), mobile phone text messages (χ²=4.67) and radio programmes (χ²=7.76) coded in local language leading to farmers‟ access and use of improved sorghum production technologies. Besides, the results showed strong positive correlation between socio-economic factors and uptake of improved sorghum technologies. Farmers with individual land ownership (r=0.43) and large sizes of land under sorghum (r=0.21) had taken up use of improved sorghum technologies compared to those that had leased or were using communal land and had small sizes of land under sorghum. In addition, there was a strong association between agent‟s experience (χ²=96.7) and uptake of improved technologies. Agents with long experience influenced more the uptake and use of the improved sorghum production and marketing technologies compared to those with no experience. xiv It was concluded that farmers‟ age, gender, mobile phone text messages, radio programmes coded in the local language influenced small scale farmers‟ uptake and use of improved sorghum technologies. Further, financial training institutions, extension agents experience, land ownership, land size under sorghum production influenced and contributed to farmers‟ uptake of improved sorghum technologies. It was recommended that modern extension methods on financial training and agronomic practices should be enhanced by integrating technologies coded in local languages and disseminated via radio programmes and mobile phone short text messages to farmers so as to increase future uptake of improved technologies among small scale farmers.
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