Farmers' perspectives on the biotic constraint of Striga hermonthica and its control in western Kenya

Atera, E A and Itoh, K and Asuma, T and Ishii, T (2012) Farmers' perspectives on the biotic constraint of Striga hermonthica and its control in western Kenya. Weed Biology and Management, 12 (1). pp. 53-62.

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Witchweed, Striga hermonthica (hereafter, referred to as “Striga”), is a major biotic constraint to cereal production in sub-Saharan Africa. The parasitic plant is a socioeconomic problem that has forced some resource-poor farmers to abandon their farms due to high infestation. This study was designed in order to elucidate farmers' perceptions of Striga control measures and to determine their potential adoption in two villages in western Kenya. Participatory rural appraisals and individual interviews were conducted in 2009 and 2010 in a sample of 128 and 120 households in Kaura and Kogweno-Oriang villages in Homabay and Rachuonyo districts, respectively. The results revealed that crop production was the main occupation in most households. The farmers identified Striga as one of the major constraints to maize, sorghum, and finger millet production. According to the farmers, the most popular control measures were hand-pulling, crop rotation, and intercropping, even though rotational systems might need a longer timeframe to reduce the soil seed bank of Striga. Although the level of Striga infestation and damage were increasing in the farmers' fields, the adoption of the control options was limited. The reason for the low adoption level of the control methods by the farmers is because they are “too risky” as there is no guarantee of a direct pay-off in increased crop yield. Farmer-led evaluation and adaptation of the various Striga control technologies in real-life situations will facilitate the choice of appropriate options and facilitate their uptake.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The authors thank the Mitsui Corporation (08-C-083), Tokyo, Japan, for financial support and Elijah M.Ateka of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Nairobi, Kenya, for his valuable comments and editing of this manuscript.We gratefully acknowledge G.S.Aoko, S. Modii and F.N. Atera for their assistance in the data collection and the farmers who participated in this survey.
Uncontrolled Keywords: control methods;farmers' perceptions;Kenya;participatory research;Striga
Author Affiliation: Graduate School of Agricultural Science, Kobe University, Kobe, Japan
Subjects: Plant Protection
Depositing User: Mr Siva Shankar
Date Deposited: 16 Mar 2012 03:46
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2012 03:46
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