Effects of Plant Health Rallies on Farmers’ Knowledge, Attitude and Practice in Uganda
Published: June, 2021
A survey of 717 farmers (61% male, 39% female) was conducted in six districts in Uganda to assess the effects of Plant Health Rallies (PHRs) on farmers’ knowledge, attitudes and practices, and to draw lessons about PHR implementation.
The survey was complemented with Focus Group Discussions and Key Informant Interviews. PHR participants seem to have better access to formal information sources than non-participants. Nearly half of the non-participants recognized some differences in practices and outcomes between PHR participants and themselves. Over 90% of the PHR participants applied at least some of the advice given, thereby either completely or partially solving their plant health problems. Reasons for not applying all recommendations included: insufficient capital, distance to reliable input shops, inadequate skills to implement the recommendations, and in some cases, farmers preferred other solutions. PHRs influenced extension positively by: enabling extension workers to reach a larger number of farmers than they normally do; creating a platform for interaction between extension workers, farmers and input suppliers, and exposing extension workers to a wide range of plant health problems, which facilitates better programming. Farmers’ constraints to accessing and using knowledge from PHRs included: irregularity of rallies, inappropriate rally venues (markets), distances to venues, insufficient print materials and limited follow-up by extension staff. PHR implementation was challenged by: high operational costs, workload, insufficient technical knowledge of some extension workers, and some farmers’ expectation to receive free inputs. PHRs are considered a valuable extension approach to address plant health problems. Mainstreaming of PHRs requires multi-stakeholder collaborations, political commitment and pooling of resources to make the most of the scarce human and financial resources of Uganda’s agricultural extension system. More research is needed to explore ways to enhance synergies between service providers and extension approaches to optimize farmer reach and learning outcomes in a cost-effective manner.
Worldwide, over 500 million smallholder farmers provide food for two-thirds of the earth’s growing population. Achieving a zero hunger world by 2030 depends on increasing the productivity of these smallholder farmers – but their crops face a significant threat. Yearly, an estimated 40% of crops grown worldwide are lost to pests. If we could reduce crop losses by just 1%, we could potentially feed millions more people. The lack of access to timely, appropriate and actionable extension advice makes it a fundamental challenge for farmers to get the right information at the right time to reduce crop losses.