Factors influencing maize crop production at household levels: A case of Rukwa Region in the southern highlands of Tanzania
Production of staple food occupies an important part in Sub-Saharan Africa’s agricultural production. Maize crop in particular is the most important staple food in this area. The article mainly examines households’ socio-economic characteristics affecting maize production in Rukwa in the context of the market reforms carried out in Tanzania in the mid 1980’s. Rukwa region is one of Tanzania’s most reliant maize producers. The article explores the importance of maize to household’s crop production, its production levels and the determinants of its productivity. A number of specific issues are explored including the importance of factors such as farm size, education, and access to key inputs such as seeds, fertilizers and agricultural extension services. The study on which the article is based uses data collected from three districts of Rukwa. The findings showed that maize crop continues to play an important role in most households’ livelihood. However, the crop production levels were low. Education was observed to be an important factor in raising yields, suggesting that non-agriculture policies may also be important for improving productivity and welfare of farmers. Despite the importance of maize crop to household livelihoods, several constraints were reported to hinder its productivity including access to fertilizers, improved seeds and other chemical inputs necessary for higher production, and extension services. Therefore, efforts need to be taken by both the local and central government to raise households maize productivity and hence increase the possibility of improving their well-being.
African Journal of Agricultural Research, 2015; 10 (10): 1097 - 1106
Zea mays, Farm households, Rukwa Region, Agricultural extension, Tanzania, Maize productivity