Constraints to maize production in Kamuli district, Eastern Uganda
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Maize is the most important food security crop in Uganda. The crop is cultivated by 49% of agricultural households and has replaced others like millet, matoke and cassava as staple in many regions of the country. However, the production of the crop is still very low hampered by a variety of constraints. This report presents the results of a study on constraints to maize production in Kamuli district, Eastern Uganda. The study aimed at determining the impact of the fall armyworm, stem borer, and Striga weed to guide formulation of appropriate policy options and interventions for their effective management and control. The objectives of the study included; i) to characterize maize producing households, ii) to identify the maize production constraints and the impact of the biophysical and socio-economic factors on maize yield. A total of 920 households were randomly selected from 101 farmer groups and used as the sample for the study. The data was analyzed using both descriptive statistics and econometric techniques. Descriptive statistics revealed that the majority (86.05%) of the households were male-headed. The average years of schooling of the household members were 9 years while the average age of the household heads and the household is 49 years and 20.5 years respectively. An approximate 28.55% of the farmers consider farming as their primary occupation. More than half (63.94%) of the farmers surveyed still plant local maize seed varieties, and mainly sell their maize produce at the farm gate, which fetches them low prices. The production constraints ranked in order of importance included; fall armyworm, striga, stem borer, drought, other pests/insects, animal trampling, soil loss, waterlogging, diseases, flood, hailstorm, striga, and frost. The notable socio-economic constraints included; access to extension services and financial assistance. The fall armyworm, stem borer, and striga weed cause about 37.08%, 20.73%, 37.45% losses respectively. The farmers mentioned several management practices they use to manage and control the biophysical constraints (FAW, striga and stem borer). The main strategies for control of FAW and stem borer include; mechanical removal of the pest, pesticide application, uprooting and burning, and frequent weeding. The main strategies used to control striga are; uprooting and burning, pesticide application, early planting, and crop rotation. Other strategies employed by the farmers included; use of ash/pepper and fertilizer application. Regression results show that the significant determinants of maize yield include; the amount of labor employed by the farmers, the amount of pesticides applied per acre of the maize field, farmers’ access to credit, the age and the education level of the farmer. The main factors that enhance maize yield include; the amount of labor employed by the farmer, the amount of pesticides applied by the farmer, the farmers’ access to extension, the age and the education level of the farmer. Based on the findings, the study recommends the increased use of improved seeds that are tolerant or resistant to the biophysical constraints. This could limit on maize and therefore improve the yield of the farmers and sustainable management of the striga weed and other production constraints, The study also recommends an increase in employment and training of extension officers so as to bring relevant and up to date extension services closer to the farmers. This would enable the farmers to access the information and technologies that would enable them improve their production. It also recommends that a public-private partnership should be promoted on production technologies so that the farmers can easily access them at an affordable cost.