Knowledge gaps on fertilizer use among farmers and fertilizer dealers in Mubende district
Mulindwa, Kigongo Boniface
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Sustainable fertilizer use by smallholder farmers in Uganda has been hindered by limited farmers’ knowledge and skills on fertilizer use. This is further aggravated by poorly developed agricultural extension system within the country. The objective of this study was to indentify fertilizer use knowledge gaps and ability of fertilizer retailers to provide fertilizer extension services to farmers. A survey was conducted in Mubende district involving face to face interview7s and semi-structured questionnaire was the instrument for data collection. The face to face-interview involved 60 household heads within the farmer farming communities and 15 fertilizer retailers. Key informants involved in the study were fertilizer knowledge resource persons within the district namely sub county agricultural extension officers with category check list used for data collection. From the study findings, it was clear that there were fertilizer use knowledge gaps among farmer respondents. Also fertilizer retailers had inadequate capacity to offer appropriate fertilizer use information to their clienteles. Farmer respondents were aware of the declining soil fertility of their farming as majority applied inorganic fertilizers to replenish soil fertility. Farmer majorly applied all fertilizers before planting which affects nutrient availability during critical stages of crop growth. In order to strengthen and popularize use of fertilizers sustainably in Mubende district, there is need to provide fertilizer specific extension agents so as to avail farmers with relevant information regarding fertilizer use such as time of application, rates of application, and right fertilizer product to apply. Fertilizer retailers should be formally trained to professionally handle fertilizers and streamlined into the fertilizer extension service provision system as they it was evidenced that they were the immediate extension service providers to farmers. More exhibitions, seminars and conferences on appropriate fertilizer use should be organized especially at the beginning of cropping season especially through farmer groups as majority of farmer respondents thought fertilizer use advice from farmer groups.