Household socio-economic factors and soil fertility management on millet fields of Southwestern Niger
Declining soil fertility is a major threat to agricultural productivity and livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in Niger, where most farmers have few resources and depend on degraded lands. Large-scale adoption of soil fertility management technologies (SFMT) by small-scale farmers is among the proposed solutions, but this remains low because of various constraints. A better understanding of the socioeconomic factors that influence farming practices is needed to adapt SFMT to farmers' use. A survey using semi-structured interviews with 101 household heads was conducted in 2013 in Karabedji, Niger. The influence of household socio-economic factors on soil fertility management practices (SFMP) was assessed through farmers that were involved in demonstration activities as part of a long-term research project (13 years) on the restoration of soil fertility on farmers’ fields. The results showed that the farmer's household size was between 9 and 14 people and that the majority of farmers did not attain formal education. Fifty percent (50%) of the non-participating farmers and 69% of the participants of the demonstration were affiliated with farmers' organizations. The proportion of demonstration participants and non-participants having an average farm income of less than 300,000 FCFA (about US $ 600) was 70 to 75%. Logistic regression analysis showed a significant positive effect (P <0.05) of affiliation in FBO on chemical fertilizer acquisition and use of other SFMP, while participation to demonstration activities and resource endowment was negatively associated with the purchase of these chemical inputs. Animal drawn cart possession and average farm income had a positive impact on farmers' SFMP. These results call for increased support towards all initiatives aimed at strengthening local farmer organizations and raising farmers’ awareness, in order to improve farmers' access to inputs and use of the SFMT. Further investigations should also be focused on the influence of conditions that can motivate farmers to acquire inputs, such as fertilizer, at the times when they have the means and saving it for future use.
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