Ex-ante evaluation of the economic potential of herbicide coated maize seed in the control of striga weed in Western Kenya
MetadataShow full item record
This study was motivated by the need to find out whether the farmers could increase their maize production and profits through Striga control using herbicide-coated maize seed technology. The major objective was to determine adoption potential of the technology. The farmers' technology evaluation and preferences were identified and improvements on the technology suggested to improve adoption. The data used was obtained from a survey of 123 smallholder farmers in 4 districts and through field trials in western Kenya. This included socioeconomic, maize production and willingness to pay data. Field trials were conducted both on-station and on-farm and data collected included both inputs and outputs data for the production of a herbicide resistant maize variety, coated with imazapyr and grown at two different fertilizer rates. A survey of the farmers showed that Striga is a major problem in maize production. The various Striga control options that are available to them have not yet been effective in controlling Striga. The farmers who have participated in the trials involving the use of herbicide-coated seed technology are happy with the yields and the ability of this technology to control Striga. On average, the farmers are willing to pay Kshs. l50/kg, which is higher than the price of currently available commercial seed, and a premium above approximate value of herbicide coated seed. The demand is expected to be higher in the long rains season than in the short rain season. However, the only complaint was that the maize variety is late maturing. Economic evaluation was done for both on-farm and on-station data. The results indicated that herbicide-coated seed technology is very effective in suppressing Striga, thereby increasing yields from about 1 to 3.5 ton/ha. The net benefits for the farmers increase by Kshs 23,790lha for an added cost of Kshs 312/ha. Under the conditions of the trial, the technology is highly profitable. Production function analysis showed that the use of fertilizer significantly increased yields on-station but not on-farm due to the inherent high soil fertility in the selected farms. Marginal analysis showed that the use of herbicide resulted in higher than minimum acceptable rate of return (of 50%) while the use of fertilizer gave acceptable rate of return only when Striga was controlled. Use of herbicide is not sensitive to up to a 50% change in its price. However, the use of fertilizer is quite sensitive to its price changes, especially when Striga is not controlled. The major conclusion which can be drawn from this study is that the herbicide coated seed technology should be made available to the farmers, as it is able to meet their immediate need of producing more maize. The study recommends that trials be carried out in more sites so that more farmers are made aware of the technology. Further research on the technology should incorporate the farmers' preference for early maturing seed variety. However, the problems that lead to limited use of hybrid seeds need to be addressed, especially through the provision of credit.