Farmer Perceptions, Use And Profitability Of Biofix® On Soybean (glycine Max) Production In Western Kenya
Patrick, S M
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Research on the use of Rhizobia inoculants to enhance BNF has been conducted in Africa since 1950's. It has demonstrated the benefit of the use of inoculation on legumes in relation to the use of nitrogenous fertilizers. However, the use of inoculants has not been widely applied by the smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa despite the challenges of acquisition of nitrogenous fertilizers and other environmental concerns. The aim of this study was to examine how farmers perceive BIOFIX® inoculant, factors that drive its use and its profitability among the smallholder farmers. It uses data collected from 210 soybean farmers in three regions of Western Kenya namely, Bungoma West in Bungoma County, Mumias in Kakamega County and Bondo in Siaya County. Regression techniques were used to assess factors influencing perception and drivers of BIOFIX® inoculant use and partial budget analysis techniques to examine the profitability. The results show that farmers who have used BIOFIX® view it more positively than those who do not use. Perception is significantly (p< 0.01) influenced by frequency of contacts with organizations that promote BNF and membership in soybean producer group. Other factors that influence perception of inoculants is farmer's age (p< 0.10), use of nitrogenous fertilizers on legumes (p< 0.05) and region from where the farmer comes from (p< 0.05). The study finds that farmer's decision to use inoculants is determined by knowledge of legume root nodules (p <0.01), contact with organizations promoting BNF technologies (p <0.01), membership in soybean promoting group (p <0.01), location of the farmer and area under crop (p <0.10). The intensity of BIOFIX® use is mainly influenced by area under crops, frequency of contacts with organizations promoting BNF technologies, group membership and the distance to collection centers, knowledge of the importance of roots nodules and location of the farmer. Partial budget analysis finds a 26% increase in soybean yields by farmers who inoculate their soybean (864 kg ha') in comparison to those who do not inoculate (78 kg ha-1 less) with the difference in mean yields significant at p<O.Ol. Difference in gross margins achieved by users of inoculants (Ksh. 21,651 ha') and non-users (13,641 ha') is highly significant (p<O.Ol). The findings of this study imply that there is need to strengthen local institutions and for greater involvement of commercial sector (agro-dealers) and public extension to enhance promotion of inoculants use. Other channels of passing information and knowledge of BNF technologies need to be explored such as the use of radio, television and mobile phones. The findings also highlight the importance of markets as drivers of technologies adoption. This suggests that for soil fertility improvement technologies such as inoculants to be adopted, there is need to strengthen the output market.