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Farmers' knowledge and perceptions of the stunting disease of Napier grass in Western Kenya

Khan, Z. R., Midega, C. A. O., Nyang'au, I. M., Murage, A., Pittchar, J., Agutu, L. O., Amudavi, D. M. and Pickett, J. A. ORCID: 2014. Farmers' knowledge and perceptions of the stunting disease of Napier grass in Western Kenya. Plant Pathology 63 (6) , pp. 1426-1435. 10.1111/ppa.12215

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Production of Napier grass, Pennisetum purpureum, the most important livestock fodder in Western Kenya, is severely constrained by Napier stunt (Ns) disease. Understanding farmers' knowledge, perceptions and practices is a prerequisite to establishing an effective disease management approach. Using a random sample of 150 farmers drawn from Bungoma, Busia and Teso districts of Western Kenya, this study sought to: (i) assess farmers' perceptions and knowledge of Ns disease, including its effects on the smallholder dairy industry; (ii) record farmers' current practices in managing Ns disease; and (iii) identify Ns disease management challenges and intervention opportunities in order to develop an efficient integrated disease management approach. The majority (86·7%) of the farmers were aware of Ns disease and observed that it was spreading rapidly in the region, which was perfectly predicted by farmers' access to agricultural information (marginal effect = 0·164), indicating a need for extension platforms for knowledge sharing among the industry stakeholders. The disease had affected Napier grass yields so most farmers could not feed their livestock on the amounts they produced, and they were buying Napier grass. Those who relied on income from selling Napier grass received less due to loss in productivity. Milk production had reduced by over 35%. The cause of the disease was unknown to the farmers, with no effective disease management strategy available to them. An integrated disease management approach needs to be developed to fit within the mixed farming systems, supported by simple decision aids.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Chemistry
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 0032-0862
Last Modified: 03 Nov 2022 10:03

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