Technology for small-scale farmers in sub-Saharan Africa: Experience with food crop production in five major ecological zones
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This report studies the technology which is available to small scale farmers in Africa and assesses its applicability in the context of financial, economic and managerial constraints which face rural households. It also draws on the experience of twenty-five projects in five different ecological zones, highlighting a dominant constraint which has to be overcome if farmers are to increase their productivity without sacrificing household security. It deals with the eight most widely grown crops and focuses in some detail on the applicability of new planting material, agronomic practices and use of purchased inputs to the actual situations facing farm families. A recurring theme is that technology does exist which can enable farmers to deal with such factors as timely planting and weeding and the provision of adequate plant nutrients. All too often, however, there are factors outside the control of the farm family which render such technology impracticable. This paper highlights the need for greater sensitivity to the constraints which prevent farmers from adopting the techniques which they are prompting. In a final section the paper summarizes specific challenges to research and opportunities for extension with regard to the most important factors determining crop productivity.