Measuring farmers' attitudes towards and risk preferences for Integra ted soil fertility management practices: The case of kale and cut-flower farmers in urban and peri-urban Nairobi
Shikuku, Kelvin M
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Declining soil fertility is an impediment to increasing agricultural productivity in many developing countries. One of the strategies for reversing the decline in soil fertility is the integrated soil fertility management (ISFM). ISFM emphasizes the application of both organic and inorganic soil fertility management practices to amend soil degradation. However, the adoption rate of ISFM remains low and widely varied among farmers. The aim of this study was to measure farmers' attitudes towards ISFM and their perception of the benefits and risks of adopting ISFM. Attitudes were measured using Rasch model and the explanatory factor analysis while benefit-risk perception was assessed using the Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) regression technique. Data used was collected from 185 farmers comprising 30 non-commercial urban kale (Brasica oleracea) farmers in Kibera, 125I.c?o~npnercial peri-urban kale farmers in Wangige, and .1.:. :.. 30 smallholder flower farmers from Ngecha. The study found that use of agro-industrial by-products, deep rooting green manure crops and human faecal manure were the most difficult~ISFM practices to undertake. The least demanding practices in terms of efforts were incorporation of livestock manure, intercropping/crop rotation with legumes, and combining chemical fertilizer and organic manure. Results of EFA indicated that labour constraint, farmers' training, and endowment with social capital were important factors explaining farmers' behaviour. However, contrary to the findings of the Rasch model that a number of the ISFM practices were very costly and beyond an average farmer's ability, the EFA indicated a high average rating of the importance o! ISFM practices by farmers. Based on these findings, the study concluded that farmers differ it\.their strength of attitude towards ISFM and that although farmers, on average, rate ISFM practices as important, they actually do not undertake the ISFM due to the perceived difficulty (costs) associated with the practices. The 10 I P age study further found that farmers' attitudes towards ISFM, perceived benefits and perceived risks associated with conventional practices reduce variability in yields. It however found that farmers' perception of the risks associated with non-conventional practices such as use of human faecal manure increases variability in kale yield. This study recommends targeted dissemination of soil fertility improvement technologies, reduction of the risks associated with non-conventional technologies, and addressing the concerns raised by farmers about the use of human faecal manure including odour, certification, and packaging.