Livelihood strategies, lowlands rice cultivation and implication for the adoption of rice technologies (a case study of integrated rice management options)

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Rural households in developing countries undertake a wide range of activities to make a living and the understanding of this complex interaction is a prerequisite to effective technological and policy intervention. The Crops Research Institute (Ghana) in collaboration with the West Africa Rice Center (WARDA) at 2003 and 2004 introduced Integrated Rice Management (IRM) practices to rural rice farming communities in the Western Region of Ghana with a view to improve the livelihood status of the communities. The contribution of IRM and their complementarily with the other livelihood strategies provides the broader picture of farmers' response "and adoption. However the broader pictures is usually obscured and to improve this understanding, a good knowledge of prevailing livelihood strategies of farmers is needed, hence the study to assess the livelihood strategies of lowland rice farmers and their implication for the adoption of improved rice management options. The study adopted a participatory technique and involved rice farmers, opinion leaders and other, stakeholders such as extension officers, heads of on-going projects and other institutions that operate within the Shama Ahanta East districts. Primary and secondary data were used in this study. Farmers who have been introduced to IRM learning classes (IRM- exposed) and those who had not (non-IRM exposed) were purposively selected for this survey. K-means cluster analysis and multiple regression were used in analyzing data. The results of the study reveals that farmers engage in similar and diverse livelihood activities which are sometimes undertaken simultaneously (distillation from sugarcane and rice production) or consecutively (distillation activities using oil palm and rice production). Predominant livelihood activities were rice farming and distillation. In addition, exposure to IRM options afforded farmers time to engage in dry season vegetable production, thus increasing income. Three different livelihood strategies; Diversified Land Rich Farmer, Partial Subsistence Middle Income Farmer and Partial Subsistence Low Income Farmer were identified and each of these differed from the other in its contribution to total income. Percentage contribution of rice to total income was least in Diversified Land Rich Fanner and highest in Partial Subsistence Low Income Farmer indicating rice as an important source of money for the poor. However, farmers within these communities were constrained in certain infrastructure such as power tillers, threshers, tarpaulin and high quality milling machine in addition to the rain-fed agriculture they practiced which imparted negatively on their farm activities. Therefore, it is recommended that infrastructure such as threshers, tarpaulin and improved milling machines be provided by relevant stakeholders in the development process to prevent post harvest losses and increase the quality of grains produced for the improvement of the livelihoods of the respondents.
A Thesis submitted to the Department of Agricultural Economics, Agribusiness and Extension, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science, 2007