Socioeconomic factors and soil fertility management practices affecting sorghum production in Western Kenya: a case study of Busia county
American Journal of Experimental Agriculture
Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor L. Moench), though ranked as the third most important staple food crop in Kenya, farmers still experience periodic crop failure and this is a threat to food and income security. This paper attempts to find the underlying factors responsible for low production and establish farmers’ perceptions on soil fertility management. A cross-sectional study was carried out in Busia County, to relate socioeconomic factors and soil fertility management aspects affecting sorghum yields. Structured interviews and observations were used for data collection, considering the variables: demographic factors, income, farmers’ perception on soil fertility replenishing options, access to agricultural advisory services and yields of sorghum. Results indicate that women are predominant (57.3%) sorghum producing farmers in the County. Literacy level reveals majority of the farmers (49.3%) have primary education as optimum suggesting sorghum production to be through hands-on experience. Individual land ownership was the norm with most farms being 1.5 to 2.0 hectares. Income among respondents is below USD 1.25 per day. Sorghum is ranked very important (56.7%) and is a resource against food shortage. Many farmers (41.3.0%) use traditional seed from previous harvests with 24.0% purchasing seed from agro-dealers or being provided by non-Governmental organizations/projects. Intercropping is associated with food security, improved yields and land inadequacy and not to soil fertility restoration. Inadequate knowledge on the role of legumes and crop residue recycling in soil fertility improvement exists and 38.7% of farmers have access to agricultural information. Gender, social norms, literacy, fertilizer use, accessibility to advisory services and farmers’ perception on soil fertility management options are concluded to impact on sorghum production in Busia County. The existing database on the alternative researched options to restore soil fertility and increase crop yields could be channeled through demonstration plots to farmers in a participatory manner in order to facilitate adoption.
Busia county, demographic factors, income, soil fertility management