Adoption potential of biomass transfer technology in Western Kenya

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This study assesses the adoption potential of biomass transfer technology in Western Kenya. The main aim is to assess uptake of the technology by farmers in six divisions of Vihiga District who have different levels of contact with research with special reference on use, management, benefits, problems, perceptions, innovations and expansions. It also looks at the major factors affecting adoption and the diffusion/uptake of the technology in six villages in Yala Division of Siaya District. The study employs both formal and informal survey methods which include questionnaires and a combination of PRA, RRA and PLAR techniques. A survey from 69 farmers of the extension department (extension farmers) and 53 farmers collaborating with researchers (research farmers) of the KEFRI, KARI, ICRAF project in Maseno are presented. Group discussions and interviews by farmers in the six villages in Yala Division (village farmers) are also presented. The findings suggest that the rate of adoption is affected by association with research. Among the research farmers 23% were strong adopters, 58% medium adopters and 19% did not adopt. Among the extension farmers, 15% were strong adopters, 20% were medium adopters while 59% did not adopt. For the village farmers, diffusion across the villages is generally not high and a larger proportion of farmers have not tested the technology. But the rate of uptake is very high among the village farmers who have tested the technology and are in close contact with research. Other factors associated with adoption are sex of decision-maker, household type, education level of decision-maker, affiliation to groups and participation in external activities. Many farmers currently apply the biomass on horticultural vegetables other than maize, the initial test crop. The revenue received from the sale of these vegetables off-sets the costs of the labour incurred in using the biomass. The main benefits include increased crop yield and better crop quality. The major problem is the labour and it is the main reason given by farmers who have discontinued with the technology. This issue needs to address if farmers are to adopt biomass transfer. Only a few farmers have planted tithonia within their farms to reduce the labour input. Extension efforts are needed to encourage more farmers to plant.
A thesis submitted to the Board of Postgraduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy in Agroforestry, 2002