What determines membership to farmer groups in Uganda: Evidence from the Uganda Census of Agriculture 2008/09
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Farmer groups have returned to the policy agenda of many developing countries because of their attractiveness as facilitators and accelerators of technical and economic change in rural areas and as potential avenues for mobilizing farmers around a common objective especially in the delivery of services and formulation of policies that support agriculture development. In Uganda, the government and development agencies are targeting farmer groups as the vehicle for agricultural development in the country. Despite this significance of farmer groups in the policy agenda little is known on the level of membership and the factors influencing the decision of farmers to join these groups. Using the Uganda Census of Agriculture 2008/9 data, the study reveals that nationally, membership to groups is low at 9 and 16 percent amongst individual farmers and agriculture households respectively. Northern Uganda had the highest level of membership followed by Western Uganda. The Central region had the least membership. Farmer characteristics that influenced membership to groups were found to be: age, gender, marital status, major activity and education achievement. Distance to extension services was a major factor influencing membership to groups in addition to distances to the to all year gravel road for some regions. To increase membership to farmer groups, government and development agencies need to provide more time and resources to group formation with targeting directed towards illiterate farmers and those far away from extension workers. The use of the local language in publicity materials is also important in ensuring participation among the illiterate. Overall, there is a need for concerted efforts by all institutions supporting groups to ensure that groups’ approach succeeds in improving access to agricultural technologies and ensuring that noticeable outcomes are achieved for them to attract more farmers like the out grower schemes in Ghana. Other groups based factors including governance, capacity in knowledge, resources and sustainability should be enhanced as it will motivate the more riskaverse farmers to join the groups.