Adoption of Maize Production Technologies in the Coastal Lowlands of Kenya
Maize is the major food crop grown in the coastal region of Kenya and constitutes a major component of the diet of the population in the region. However, average yields are far below the potential for the region and low production levels create serious food deficits. Over the years, new technologies have been introduced but adoption has remained low, especially for fertilizer. This paper examined current maize-farming practices and technological and socioeconomic factors that influenced adoption in the Kilifi and Kwale Districts of the Coast Province, that together account for half of maize production in the region. The study found low adoption levels for improved maize varieties and technology, especially fertilizer, among farmers in the area. Farmers cited poor availability of improved varieties, high cost, lack of knowledge, and unfavourable characteristics of improved varieties as reasons for non-adoption. The high price and poor availability of fertilizers, farmers’ inexperience with them, and their perception that soils were already fertile were among reasons given for low fertilizer use. The low levels of adoption of improved varieties indicate that they are not meeting farmers’ needs. The authors recommend that researchers communicate with and include farmers’ criteria when breeding varieties. In addition, alternative options should be extended to farmers who are not able to use inorganic fertilizers. Finally, given the major influence of the institutional environment found in the study, it is recommended that extension services be strengthened, especially where lack of knowledge was cited as a hindrance to adoption.
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