An avaluation of financial implications of legume technologies on smallholder cereal farmers in Central Malawi

Chanza, Samantha (2016-03)

Thesis (MSc)--Stellenbosch University, 2016.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Most Malawians are directly dependent on cereal production. Smallholder farmers in central Malawi have been affected by decline in soil fertility, due to crop harvest removals, soil erosion and leaching. The consequence is a decline of agricultural productivity leaving Malawi food insecure over the longer term. Nitrogen is the most affected of the soil nutrients. This necessitates a legume inclusion approach in production systems. Legume intercropping is promoted in the tropics with the aim to replenish soil fertility. The importance of legumes include: their potential to improve soil fertility through Biological Nitrogen Fixation, provide nutritional values to humans with their high amounts of proteins and income source for the rural smallholders farmers. This study was conducted to evaluate the financial implications on smallholder farmers regarding the implementation of BNF (Biological Nitrogen Fixation) and inoculant technologies in current production systems. It focused on certain districts in Malawi including: Ntcheu, Dedza, Mchinji, Salima and Kasungu. The main aim of the study was to; (i) determine current production systems used in the selected areas, (ii) assess the proposed alternatives based on research results, (iii) assess the practical implications of adoption of BNF and inoculation technologies on crop systems in the selected areas and (iv) determine the financial implications of the implementation of legume technologies on smallholders production systems. Group discussion methods were used to stimulate interaction among participants to describe the current production systems, to validate the outcome of trial results on farm level and to determine practical implications of adopting alternative systems. The method needed to be suitable for capturing the complex smallholder farming systems and collect data to evaluate profitability implications on farm level. Both gross margin and partial budget models were developed to determine the financial implications of the adoption of legume technologies. For each area a typical farm was used as the basis for comparing the before and after adoption financial situation of smallholder production systems. The crops typically included, in a system with maize, are: soy beans, common beans, cowpeas and groundnuts. Gross margins increased for all crops and for all the districts after the adoption of the legume technologies. Low crop yields before the adoption of the legume technologies are attributed to recycling of seed, low-yielding varieties or lack of legumes, insufficient fertilizer use and low levels of knowledge and skills. Intercropping system helps the farmers minimize risk against total crop failure and maximize cultivation per area. This lessens the challenges of small farms to some extent. Furthermore, the results reveal that farmers have benefitted financially from the implementation of legume technologies. The results have not been able to identify any negative implications on the adoption of legume technologies on the intercropping systems in the selected areas in Malawi. The gain from the inclusion of legume technology is, however, indicative of the low yield levels before the adoption. The legume technologies hold potential to contribute to productive and sustainable agricultural systems for the smallholder farmers in Malawi.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die meeste Malawiërs is direk afhanklik van graanproduksie. Kleinboere in sentraal Malawi word geaffekteer deur dalende grondvrugbaarheid weens verwydering van oeste en oesreste, gronderosie en dreinering. Die gevolg is ʼn afname in landbou produktiwiteit wat Malawi oor die langer termyn in ʼn voedsel onseker situasie laat. Die mees geaffekteerde grond voedingstof is stikstof. Dit noodsaak ʼn benadering van insluiting van stikstofbinders in produksie sisteme. Stikstofbinder tussenverbouing word in die trope aangemoedig met die doel om grondvrugbaarheid te herstel. Die belangrikheid van stikstofbinders sluit in: vermoë om grondvrugbaarheid te herstel deur biologiese stikstof binding, dra by tot menslike voeding weens hoë proteïen inhoud en dien as bron van inkomste van kleinskaalse, plattelandse, boerderye. Hierdie studie is uitgevoer om die finansiële implikasies van die insluiting van stikstofbindende tegnologie en inokulante in bestaande produksiesisteme te evalueer. Die studie fokus op bepaalde areas in Malawi insluitende: Ntcheu, Dedza, Mchinji, Salima en Kasungu. Die hoofdoelwitte van die studie was om: ( i) die huidige produksiestelsel vir elke area te bepaal, (ii) die voorgestelde alternatiewe te asseseer, gebaseer op navorsingsresultate, (iii) die praktiese implikasies van die inkorporering van biologiese stikstof binder tegnologie in die gewasstelsels vir elke area te bepaal en (iv) bepaal die finansiële implikasies van die implementering van alternatiewe tegnologie op bestaande kleinboereproduksiestelsels. Groepbesprekings is as metode aangewend om interaksie tussen deelnemers aan te moedig om die huidige produksiestelsels te beskryf. Dit ondersteun ook die validasie van die uitkoms van die proefresultate en die bepaling van praktiese implikasies van die implementering van ʼn alternatiewe produksiestelsel. Die metodiek moes toepaslik wees om die kompleksiteit van die kleinboerstelsel te akkommodeer en om die nodige data te versamel. Die data is geï mplementeer om die impak op winsgewendheid van kleinboere produksiestelsel te evalueer. Beide vertakkingsbegrotings sowel as gedeeltelike begrotings is aangewend om die implikasies van alternatiewe produksiestelsels op winsgewendheid te evalueer. Vir elke area is ʼn tipiese kleinboereenheid gebruik as basis vir vergelyking tussen die voor en na tegnologie implementering in terme van winsgewendheid van ʼn produksiestelsel. Gewasse wat tipies aangewend is as stikstofbindend, in wisselwerking met mielies, sluit in: sojabone, gewone bone, swartbekbone en grondbone. Die bruto-marge het toegeneem vir alle gewasse en oor alle areas na die implementering van stikstofbinder tegnologie. Lae opbrengste voor die aanvang van die tegnologie is toegeskryf aan hergebruik van saad, lae opbrengs variteite of geen gebruik van stikstofbinders, ondoeltreffende kunsmis aanwending en gebrekkige kennis en vaardighede. Tussenverbouing help minimaliseer die produksie-risiko van klienboere teen totale misoeste en maksimeer verbouing per area. Dit verminder die uitdagings vir kleinboere, tot ʼn mate. Verder wys die resultate dat die klienboere finansiële voordeel trek uit die implementering van die stikstofbindende tegnologie. Die resultate wys geen negatiewe implikasies vir tussenverbouing vir enige van die areas in Malawi nie. Die toename in opbrengs dui egter op die lae opbrengs wat voor implementering gehandhaaf is. Die stikstofbindende tegnologie het potensiaal om positief by te dra tot volhoubare produksiestelsel vir kleinboere in Malawi.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/98396
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