Assessment of constraints in the adoption of organic cotton production practices in Meatu district, Tanzania
Sokoine University of Agriculture
Despite 19 years of its existence, organic cotton production (OCP) system has not been adopted as envisioned. This study therefore sought to identify and assess constraints to its adoption and consequent diffusion, both in temporal and spatial dimensions. A survey study was conducted using almost equal number of both organic and conventional farmers. The key methodological features involved interviewing 59 organic and 60 conventional cotton farmers using structured questionnaire. Other instruments included key informants and Focus Group Discussion (FDG) checklists. Quantitative data were analysed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) software and results were presented as frequencies and percentages. Cross tabulation and Chi square test was used to determine association between socio-economic variables and adoption of OCP. Qualitative data were analysed using content analysis procedure. Findings of the study show that major constraints limiting the rate of adoption and diffusion of OCP were low price of organic seed cotton, stringent rules associated with organic agriculture and little involvement of political leaders and other district officials in promoting it. Other constraints included high minimum quality standards before certification of organic fields and organic seed cotton thereof, high labour requirements, lack of marketing competition and large crop losses due to pest infestation. Some predetermined constraints were not considered as limiting the adoption of OCP. They include lack of transparency in organic seed cotton pricing, lack of information on pesticide-inflicted health and environmental hazards and lack of strong organic farmers‘ association. Some socio-economic variables were found to statistically significantly influence adoption of OCP system (p <0.05 i.e. 95 % level of confidence). They include age, education, average annual income, land size, amount of family labour and land tenure. Variables that were found to have no influence in the adoption of OCP include marital status, gender and type of off-farm activities farmers performed apart from crop production. Finally, recommendations were given in order to facilitate adoption of OCP within and beyond the study area. They include more research on OA, improved public-private partnerships in OA and to enlighten farmers on public and environmental hazards associated with heavy usage of synthetic insecticides. Others are provision of financial and technical assistance to farmers so as to help them manage hurdles in the initial stages of the conversion process, to facilitate organic certification process and scouting for reliable organic cotton market opportunities. Finally, it is suggested that more quantitative studies be conducted to find out important empirical facts towards improving farm-level economics of OCP, while ensuring delivery of social and environmental public goods.
Cotton farmers, Farmers‘ association, Meatu district, Tanzania, Organic cotton production