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Baseline study of Striga control using Imazapyr Resistant (IR) maize in Western Kenya
Manyong, Victor M.
Alene, Arega D.
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This report presents the results of the baseline study undertaken to assess the status of Striga damage, the general livelihoods and livelihood strategies of the rural poor in western Kenya. A stratified random sampling method led to the selection of 8 districts, 16 sub-locations, 32 villages and 800 households. A combination of techniques for data collection was used, including literature review, GPS recordings, focus group discussions and interview of individual households. Various econometric m odels were also developed and estimated for data analyses. A stochastic frontier production function was used to measure the technical efficiency of maize production. A logistic regression model of poverty was estimated to examine the determinants and correlates of poverty in western Kenya. The study revealed that households are small in size and the dependency ratio is high. There were about 26% of households headed by females. The level of education is low for the heads of households and all members of farm families. Households are endowed with a multitude of assets for their livelihoods. However, the level of assets was found to be low or of very poor quality. Maize is the major food crop and a so urce of cash income. Farmers grow both local and improved (hybrid) maize varieties, but the productivity is low. There is a considerable gap between potential and actual maize yields. Major factors constraining crop production include Striga infestation on maize, low soil fe rtility, drought and erratic rainfall. Striga is the major threat to livelihoods of smallholders and its economic importance has increased over the past three decades. Traditional methods of Striga control include uprooting, burning and manuring, which have proved to be ineffective. Alternative technologies exist but they have not been adopted and used as they should because the level of awareness is very low. Analysis of the determinants of poverty reveal ed that the poverty status of a household in western Kenya is significantly related to Striga damage, Striga control, dependency ratio, age, education, technology adoption, land per capita, farm assets, off-farm work, cash crop production, and location. More than 70% of the sampled households experi ence food shortage lasting as long as five months every year. Coping strategies include off-fa rm short-term jobs, disposal of assets, and informal safety nets especially through remittances received from relatives. The anthropometric Z scores calculated on children indicate that about 30% were wasting, 50% were underweight and 48% were stunted. Simila rly, the results on body mass index (BMI) on women showed that 36% were underweight while 18% were overweight. One of the possible strategies to reduce poverty and vulnerability is to increase the efficiency in maize production. Considerable variation in maize production efficiency was found among the sample maize farmers. The results point to the possibility of increasing maize production through improved efficiency and best local practic es adopted by the most efficient farmers in the sample, such as integrated Striga control. While technical efficiency increases with educational attainment, it has a significant non-li near relationship with farm size where it first increases but eventually declines with farm size. The direct farm size-efficiency relationship for smaller holdings coupled with the fact that most farmers in western Kenya cultivate tiny plots of land suggests that re-allocation of more land to maize would enhance farmer efficiency. Increased efficiency could be achieved through, for instance, more optimal application of inputs and greater intensity of ad option of improved maize varieties. Therefore, efforts must be made to enhance adoption of both hybrid maize and Striga control technologies to help increase maize production. Maize yields in Kenya have continued to decline despite increased use of new maize varieties, largely due to lack of effective Striga 7 control technologies. Promoting both high-yielding varieties and Striga control technologies should thus be an important goal for research and extension in Kenya.