DEMONSTRATIONS OF AN
TO PLANNING ADAPTIVE
AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH PROGRAMMES
REPORT No. 3 DECEMBER, 1978
PART OF SERENJE DISTRICT
CENTRAL PROVINCE ZAMBIA
Ministry of Lands and Agriculture, Government of Zambia and
Rural Development Studies Bureau, University of Zambia in association
with the Interational Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT)
Cimmyt Eastern Africa Economics Programme.
Cimmyt, P.O. Box 25171, Nairobi, Kenya, Telephone 592054, 592206
Contributing to this demonstration were:
From Mount Makulu, Central Research Station.
A. Prior, Principal Research Officer, D. Vernon,Weed
Research Agronomist, J.M.H. Parker, Agronomist,
From Rural Development Studies Bureau, University of Zambia
E. Bbenkele, Economist.
From Ministry of Lands and Agriculture, GOZ
S. Kean, Economist.
M. Collinson. /. -./
The Crop Scientists guided the formulation of crop
management questions for the farmer survey which was
organised by the economists. The economists processed
the data and discussed the implications with the crop
scientists to draw up a relevant adaptive experimental
programme for maize in the Serenje study area.
1.1. Background ---------------------------------------- 1
1.2. Cimmyt's Eastern African Economics Programme --------------------- 1
1.3. Serenje District, farming background ----------------------------- 2
1.4. The Methodological sequence of the demonstration -------------------- 2
2. FARMERS CIRCUMSTANCES IN THE SERENJE STUDY AREA
2.1. Introduction -------------------------------------------------------- 4
2.2. Rainfall ---------------------------------------------------------- 4
2.3. Soils ------------------------------- ------------- 5
2.4. Population ---------------------------------------- -------- 5
2.5. Communication ------------------------------------------------------- 6
2.6. Markets ------------------------------------------------------------- 6
2.7. Distribution -------------------------------------------------------- 7
3. FARMER'S OBJECTIVES, PRIORITIES AND RESOURCE ENDOWMENTS
3.1. Introduction -------------------------------------- 9
3.2. The dominance of subsistence objectives in Serenje farming ---------- 9
3.3. Cash incomes among Serenje farmers ---------------------------------- 11
3.4. Land in Serenje farming --------------------------------------------- 11
3.5. Labour in Serenje farming ------------------------------------------- 13
3.6. Capital in Serenje farming ----------------------------------------- 13
4. FARM MANAGEMENT IN THE SERENJE STUDY AREA
4.1. Introduction -------------------------------------------------------- 15
4.2. The enterprise pattern ------------------------------------------ 15
4.3. The Crop calendar --------------------------------------------------- 16
4.4. Farm Management and Resource limitations in Serenje ----------------- 18
4.5. The soil fertility maintenance limitation --------------------------- 18
4.6. The seasonal labour supply limitation ------------------------------- 19
4.7. Managing the planting labour peak ----------------------------------- 20
4.8. Compromises in management due to seasonal labour shortages ---------- 22
FARM MANAGEMENT AND HAZARD AVOIDANCE IN SERENJE
The identification of hazards by Serenje farmers-------------------
Hazard management in Serenje farming----------------------------
TRENDS AND DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES IN THE SERENJE FARM SYSTEM
Trends in the Serenje farming system---------------------------
Development opportunities in Serenje farming -----------------
Relieving the November-January labour peak----------------------
Adapting management to the labour peak-----------------------------
New cash crops ------------- ---------------------
7. MAIZE MANAGEMENT AND ITS IMPROVEMENT IN THE SERENJE ZONE
7.1. Introduction ------------------------------------ --
7.2. Land preparation and planting methods---------------------------
7.3. Maize varieties and times of planting ------------------------------
7.4. Weeding ---------------------------------------------------------
7.5. Fertiliser use--------------------------------------------------
7.6 Storage and field pests--------------------------------------------
7.7. Summary: long term research focii ----------------------------------
7.8. Summary: immediate priorities--------------------------------
8. A MAIZE EXPERIMENTAL PROGRAMME FOR SERENJE FARMERS
8.1. Introduction ---------------------------------- -------
8.2. Variety selection ---------------------------------------------
9. SOME COMMENTS ON THE DEMONSTRATION
9.1. The team approach --------------------------------------------
9.2. Fieldwork problems----------------------------------------------
9.3. Data processing and analysis ----------------------------------------
9.4. Conclusion --------------------------------------------------------
The Ministry of Lands and Agriculture, Zambia, expressed interebc in this
approach to planning adaptive agricultural experimental programmes and coopera-
ted with Cimmyt to demonstrate it in part of Serenje District. Chapter one
describes the background to the demonstration and Cimmyt's programme objectives
and methodology. Chapter two describes farmers' circumstances in the study area.
Chapter three describes farmers' objectives, lays emphasis on their subsistence
priorities and their limited resource endowments of capital and labour. While
there is plenty of land there 'is also the problem of rapid soil degradation.
Chapters four and five give thd details of farming activity in the zone and
chapter six evaluates the way the system is developing and opportunities for
its further improvement.
Farming in the zone. Maize is the dominant crop in the system grown both for
food and cash. As a starch staple it is supplemented by finger millet and, to
a lesser extent, by cassava, bananas and sweet potatoes. Beans is the major
protein source supplemented by groundnuts, pumpkin and cowpeas. As a cash
source maize is supplemented by sales of beans and chickens and minor sales of
most of the other crops grown. Off farm employment is a common but not a major
source of cash. Average cash incomes are Kw.268, with Kw 214 from on farm
sources of which maize contributes Kw 137. 93% of farmers sold maize. Main crop
plantings are between November and January. Some plantings of maize and beans
are made on dambo margins before the rains in October and the majority of bean
and cassava plantings are made from February to April. Maize takes initial
priority in the main planting period but finger millet begins to dominate in
late December. Green maize is taken from the field by February/March, the
main maize harvest is in July, after the finger millet is off the fields in
May/June. Stumping and digging for the next season are done in March April
and May while the ground is still soft from the current rains.
The farming system is evolving rapidly. The Chitemene ash based cultivation of
finger millet has almost disappeared and crops are now grown on conventional
seedbeds. A bush fallow rotation has replaced Chitemene and has had a marked
effect on the system. Whereas formerly the constraint on scale was the amount
of firewood cut and carried to make ash seedbeds in May-August, the present
limiting factor is the ability to dig conventional seedbeds at the beginning
of the new rains in the November January period. Finger millet is likely to
decline further because of its low productivity on conventional seedbeds.
A framework for a maize research programme for the zone
Chapter seven outlines present maize management in the area and discusses how
farmers priorities and system organisation influence management practice. The
major system feature forcing compromises on maize management is the labour
constraint over the November/January period. Major compromises identified are:
(1) Cursory land preparation, especially in December onwards, giving
poor seedbeds and flat planting.
(2) Late planting with 50% of hybrid plantings being made with only
140 days of moisture remaining and 26% with only 125 days of moisture
(3) A low weeding regime with 67% of all maize plantingstreceiving one
weeding and first weeding often being done late; on average at 62 cms.
(4) Low levels of fertilizer in use reflecting a capital shortage and
probably poor responses due to low weeding levels.
Additionally insects are a major source of losses, both in the field and in the
store, and, despite strong adoption (over 90%) of hybrid seed and fertilizer
use, very few farmers are attempting control.
An adaptive research programme for Serenje farmers has two longer term aspects:
(1) Finding land preparation and weeding sequences which require less
labour in the critical November to January period with costs within
the reach of the levels of capital available to most Serenje farmers.
(2) Exploring supplementary chemical fertilisers as a means of prolonging
the cropping period in a bush fallow rotation.
There are immediate priorities for an adaptive experimental programme for maize,
the main crop in the Serenje farming system.
(1) Selection of varieties which will perform well on the shorter
period of moisture available to plantings in late December and-
(2) Local evaluation of fertilizer responses at low levels of weeding
management to allow recommendations consistent with a weeding regime
Serenje farmers can achieve.
,(3) Evaluation of maize/bean intercrops as a means to introducing a
second'cash crop and to reduce overall weeding requirements in the
(4) Local evaluation of the effectiveness of stalk borer treatments and
of improved storage practice.
During aninitialmeeting between the.Zambian government and CIMMYT representative,
the government showed interest-in a new approach to planning adaptive research
for small farmers. With the approval of the Ministry of Lands and Agriculture
a Steering Committee was given the responsibility of coordinating a demonstration
of the approach. Being an interdisciplinary approach crop scientists from
Mr. Makulu and economists from Rural Development Studies Bureau have cooperated
in the demonstration.
This report presents the results of the demonstration carried out in Serenje
District, Central Province. The farmer survey was between 12th to 22nd April,
1978. The sequence of activities in executing the demonstration were as
1) Initial meeting held in December 1977
11) Presurvey from 2nd to 8th of March 1978
111) Questionnaire Design 10th to 30th March
IV) Farmer Survey from llth to 22nd April
V) Report outline prepared; end April
VI) Computer processing of Data; mid-July
V11) Data interpretation; end September
V111) Report drafted; mid-October
IX) Discussions on draft; early November
X) Final report; end November 1978.
1.2. CIMMYT's E.A.E. Programme
In planning adaptive research work CIMMYT brings together the efforts of crop
scientists who look at the crop potential and economists who look at the
conditions and circumstances farmers operate in. Between 1972 and 1975 CIMMYT
carried out field work to study the extent to which improved technologies in
maize and wheat were being absorbed by small farmers. The results of eight
studies brought out the need for technology to fit the farmers priorities and
circumstances to be acceptable to them. The interdisciplinary approach to
planning research work for small farmers which is demonstrated here was derived
in response to this need. CIMMYT has felt sufficiently confident of the
procedures to focus the E.A.E. programme on this work. The programme has two
1) When research administrators show interest, the programme will
demonstrate procedures which involve interdisciplinary effort,
including social sciences, in planning relevant adaptive
2) Once administrators are convinced the approach can improve the
effectiveness of research planning, Cimmyt can provide advice
on how and how quickly the approach could be integrated with
the present research planning procedures, and can provide in
service training and supervision if requested.
The mandate of Cimmyt lies in the improvement of maize and wheat. For this
reason demonstration of the approach is in areas where maize or wheat are
This demonstration in Serenje derives an experimental programme for maize,
the most important crop in the local farming system. However the systems
basis of the approach allows it to focus on any crop in the farming system of
an area, or indeed on a crop not presently being grown but being considered
for introduction to farmers of the area by government. The key concept in the
programme is that small farmers must compromise in the way they manage single
enterprises. Compromise is necessary because priorities are met from the whole
farm system which is geared to their limited resource endowments and to
insulating them from the effects of rainfall, price and other uncertainties.
1.3. Serenje District, farming background:
From the 1940's to the present time the farming of the Lala in Serenje District
has changed tremendously. A major turning point was in the 1950's when plough
cultivation and hoeing were introduced, slowly replacing the traditional
farming methods. Before this the Lala used to practise small circle 'Chitemene'
- a traditional form of ash cultivation. Under this system trees were cut at
breast height, gathered in small circles and burnt. On this ash, finger millet,
the main staple starch food was broadcast without digging or doing anything
to the patch. Farmers also had subsidiary gardens in addition to the main
'Chiteme'. Such subsidiary gardens as "Ibala ya masaka" where sorghum was
grown; "cisalika" maize garden with mounded seedbeds; "citaba" dominantly
a cassava garden with a few interplantings of maize and sorghum; "fisebe" -
gardens in the dambo, usually used for maize and beans which were planted
during the months when stocks from other gardens were exhausted.
This system of axe shifting cultivation became less and less viable as
increasing population pressure did not allow the cut trees to fully regenerate.
As early as the mid-40's the density of population had exceeded the land
carrying capacity. With the introduction of hoeing and plough cultivation
there was a noticeable decrease in the acreages of Citeme.
It was as late as 1970 when moves to create conditions conducive to cash
crop agriculture were initiated through the establishment of Mailo Settlement
Scheme and later in 1972 the introduction of Tobacco Farming Schemes. The
efforts of the agricultural extension workers have also helped greatly to
bring cash crop production to farmers. Though Serenje farmers are now
producing some crops for the market their priorities and circumstances still
dictate their farm management practices. How these small farmers meet their
priorities in the circumstances they find themselves in is what the project
aims to describe, allowing the identification of development opportunities
and the planning of adaptive experiments to produce acceptable technology to
1.4. The Methodological sequence of the demonstration
(1) Zoning Serenje District:
Serenje District was selected by the Ministry of Lands and Agriculture as an
area for this demonstration for the following reasons:
i) Lack of special research recommendations for the area
ii) Maize is grown in the area
iii) A pattern of agriculture exists which has not bee 'surveyed in
Zoning is a pre-requisite to fieldwork to ensure that a homogeneous target
population is identified with the same problems and opportunities. Zoning in
the District was not based on climatic or agronomic criteria. The Southern
Zone and some parts of the Central Zone of Serenje District were chosen from
a logistical stand point. For a demonstration of the approach, a small area,
easy to manage in terms of transport during the field survey, was favoured to
an ambitious large area. The wards covered were 1, 17, 18, 19 and 20, 1 being
in the Central Zone.
The target population for the demonstration was the small scale farmers forming
a majority in the area. Some of these are receiving assistance from Agricultu-
ral extension workers. Farmers who belong to the Tobacco Board of Zambia
Farming Scheme were excluded as this group has its management practices
controlled by TBZ. Similarly large commercial farmers were not considered as
part of the population under investigation.
Six camps of the Department of Lands and Agriculture forming an accessible
grid across Southern and part of Central Serenje were purposefully selected
as Secondary Stage Sampling Units. Agricultural registers were used as a
frame to randomly select 10 farmers as primary Sampling Units from the
villages covered from each of these six camps.
(3) Pre-survey and questionnaire development
The pre-survey is an essential exercise before a farmer survey is conducted
in an area. Most important was the collection of background information on
which to base the questionnaire. This information was gathered through informal
discussions with the farmers, the District Agricultural Officer and his staff.
The discussions included the description of the local farming system, resource
constraints and hazards facing farmers. From this background information, a
questionnaire with one hundred questions was developed.
(4) Enumerator training and the farmer survey
Five enumerators from the District were recruited by the D.A.O. All the five
were form three drop outs. They were trained for one and a half days on the
questionnaire. This training was essential as they had to know what was
behind every question if they were to ask them correctly. The training involved
going through questionnaire, explaining the meaning and seeing that the
interpretations of all the enumerators were consistent. For training purposes
a questionnaire was administered to two farmers, with the enumerators taking
turns in interviewing. After training the questionnaire was administered by
the enumerators to sixty randomly selected farmers in the six camp areas.
(5) Data processing and interpretation
The data gathered was punched at the University of Zambia Computer Centre.
The punched cards were then sent to Nairobi, Kenya for processing. A farmer
listing and frequency distributions for each column were output. Sub-sorts
for selected questions were done manually, no more complex analytical
techniques were used.
2. FARMERS CIRCUMSTANCES IN THE SERENJE STUDY AREA:
As this report is the first on a demonstration of a farm based approach to
planning experimental work .in Zambia and introductory paragraph to each major
section sets out its relevance to the objective of planning a relevant maize
experimental programme for the area. This section describes farmers'
circumstances in the study zone, the natural, economic and institutional
features forming a framework within which the farmer has to manage his limited
resources to satisfy his priorities. The circumstances are exogenous to the
farm, many influence farmers management decisions, but the farmer himself
cannot influence them.
Government on the other hand can influence farmers' circumstances; changed
prices and institutions may be a key bottleneck to increasing the productivity
of the farming system of the area. Appropriateness in adaptive experimentation
is partly dictated by the framework. For example; it is wasteful to give high
priority to fertilizer experiments for an area if there is no fertilizer
distribution channel by which fertilizer can be moved to farmers. For such
experiments to be appropriate poor soil fertility must be an observed problem
and government must be committed to establishing an effective distribution
channel for fertilizer. So the approach needs a brief description of this
framework in the Serenje study area as a basis for judgement on the appropria-
teness of those types of experimentation which are influenced by farmers'
The district is situated in the high rainfall belt of the country with an
average annual rainfall of 41.34 inches (1,050 mm). Records of rainfall data
were used ranging from 1947 to 1971. The rainfall monthly averages are shown
in figure 1 below. Rainfall probabilities are also shown in table 1. Data
presented are for Serenje Boma on the Northern fringe of the zone covered by
Table 1. Rainfall probabilities for Serenje District (inch)
P. OCTOBER NOVEMBER DECEMBER JANUARY FEBRUARY MARCH APRIL
(.8) 0.91 6.92 15.21 13.03 14.22 9.45 2.59
(.6) 0.40 5.11 13.14 11.37 11.60 7.73 1.49
(.4) 0.05 3.65 9.87 9.35 8.85 5.43 0.99
(.2) 2.95 8.88 8.62 6.91 3.77 0.54
monthly .40 4.76 11.67 10.11 10.28 6.27 1.59
It can be seen that the reliable rainfall period is from November to April,
the months receiving heaviest rainfall being December, January and February.
The other months are dry or receive relatively insignificant rainfall. Records
are not sufficient to enable an analysis of variability of rainfall across the
district. However, from discussions with the Agricultural Staff suggest there
is no significant variability. Table 1 gives a rough measure of rainfall
reliability on a monthly basis over the cropping season. The measures were
derived by ranking the data into groups of five years. The table shows levels
below which rainfall will be expected to fall in specified number of years.
This measure is important because despite the six months rainfall season rural
Louseholds who depend on farming for their day-to-day staple food also place
importance on the reliability and distribution of rainfall during the wet
season. The importance is from the fact that production levels are closely
associated with rainfall reliability and distribution. The reliabilities merely
show that rainfall will be less than the levels shown in 8, 6, 4 and 2 years
cut cr every 10 in the months specified.
SRcent information on soils in Serenje is very limited as there has been no
coil survey in the area lately. In this respect extensive use has been made
of Trappnells Classification of soils in the district (D.U. Peters pg.55). The
district lies in the sandvelt belt but one finds varying soil types from the
north to the south.
'..:"-:ly one finds thiee broad soil types. In wards 2 to 10, 12 to 14, 17 to
Lc :1.- 22 i.e. mriuly in the Northern and Central zone, with a few occurences
-. :;'' Southern Lone, soils are made up of sands and loamy sands. These soils
ri- ource-grained and vary from yellowish red to light yellowish-brown in
.l l':-. The soils generally lie over permeable subsoils but in the high rainfall
zra-r soils tend to have a low base saturation. Granite and Basement complex
rocks usually characterize the occurence of these soils. These soils are
In t;. Southern zone in ward 15, 16 and 21 there occurs skeletal soils. These
soils cover the Huchinga escarpment area in the eastern part of the district
and z-re largely poor, shallow soils which are highly show severe signs of erosion.
The third classification has several small occurences in ward 11, 12 and 13 in
the northern zone. The soils are red to yellowish red in area of good drainage
and brown to yellowish brown where drainage is poor. Due to heavy leaching
these soils have a low base saturation and inherently not very fertile.
The district had a population of 56,000 at the 1963 census. In 1969 the populatioT
was 53,000, showing an absolute decrease in population of about 3,000. This is
a strong evidence that in this period there was a migration to towns on the
This is confirmed by the fact that 57% of the farmers interviewed reported one
or two members of the household working in towns mostly as miners and teachers.
The district covers an area of about 23,000 Square Kilometers.
The 1969 census figure gives us a population density of about 2 people per
square kilometer. However, recent more detailed information again based on the
1969 census show that the central zone, the western part of the Southern zone
i.e. wards 18, 19, 20 and the extreme Northern part of the district wards 6 and
7 have a density of about 2 to 4. people per square kilometer. The rest of the
Southern and Northern zones have less than 2 people per square kilometer. Ward i
and 2 in the central zone have the highest density of 5 to 9 people per square
The whole district is populated by the Lala tribe. This tribe is however also
found in the neighboring districts of Mkushi and the adjacent Katanga pedicle
of Zaire. Though there is 5% of settlers from other provinces the numbers are
too small to be a significant factor.
The bitumenized road from Kapiri Mposhi passes through the district from the
South-west corner to the North-east. From the main road there is a network
of feeder roads to various parts of the district. Roads in the Southern part
linking various agricultural camps and Namboard depots are good only in the dry
season because of bridges which cannot withstand the flooded rivers in the wet
season. This is not the case in the Northern part where rivers are relatively
The study area is characterized by a road network which, though in poor condition,
gives access to the main centres of settlement, which tends to be grouped in
villages, especially around service centres and along the xIeds.
The marketing of produce from farmers is not very developed in the district.
The only official channel is through Namboard depots which exist at every
agricultural camp. Throughout the district these are only about 41 in number
and maize is the dominant commodity handled. In the villages there are informal
transactions between neighbours and people from towns, and farmets sell most
of their groundnuts and beans to people from towns: e.g. in 1977 only 21 bags
of groundnuts were sold to Namboard and of these 19 bags were from the Rural
Reconstruction Camp. Chicken, finger millet and vegetables are main items
exchanged for cash among neighbours. There is no. data on the volume of
sales in the informal local market. About 45% of the total maize crop
marketed in the 75-76 season was from the six camps in the farmer survey.
Sunflower is the second largest commodity marketed in the district despite
being a new crop.
The figures are summarized below using 75-76 crop market prices (Government).
Table 2: Namboard crop purchases (bags) 1976-77 season.
Name of crop. Volume Sales value approx.
Maize. 42,873 257 138
Sunflower. 990 9 '900
Soya/Beans. 20 340
Groundnuts. 21 441
Source: D.A.O. Annual Report 1976 77 Serenje.
Prices in the informal market are generally not laid down except for a few
crops like beans and groundnuts which have standardized measures. The
reported price for beans, for example was 20 ngwee for a plateful and K8 K10
for a tin. Prices for other crops exchanged are negotiable. On the official
market, producer prices are fixed by the government. These prices are reviewed
to give incentive for farmers to grow more. Below are producer prices for
some of the crops.
Table 3. Namboard producer prices for 1977 and 78 (per bag)
Products 77 Price 78
Groundnuts: Grade A 25.00 28.60
Grade B 21.00 24.00
Grade C 18.00 20.00
Maize: Grade A 6.30 6.80
Grade B 6.25 6.75
Grade C 6.20 6.70
Sunflower: 10.00 12.50
Soya Beans: 17.00 21.50
The prices are fixed and do not vary from season to season. Even prices
for locally sold beans and groundnuts showed little change through the
seasons. Farmers seem to insist on the same price regardless of the
scarcity of a commodity.
Retail outlets in the district are at Namboard depots. These are very small
and its (Namboard) major function is to purchase farm produce and does not
resell at depots. As a retail outlet Namboard usually sells bananas and some
beans. It plays a more important role as a distributor of farm inputs such
as ox-ploughs and hoes. The following are the prices of farm inputs for the
study period for selected items:
Table 4: Prices for farm inputs 77-78 season
-Item Weight/bag (Kg) Price (Kwacha)
SR.52 seed 50 21.60
Z.H.1 seed. 50 11.80
Soya Beans 50 30.00
Basal fertilizer 50 6.70
Nitrogenous fertilizer 50 7.60
Input distribution seems to be efficient in the district as farmers who want
to acquire credit readily get them by applying through the crop demonstrators
at each camp. These applications for fertilizer and seeds are done in the
month of April and inputs are distributed after the rains when roads are good.
Farmers reported some problems with the availability of inputs.
3. FARMERS' OBJECTIVES, PRIORITIES AND RESOURCE ENDOWMENTS.
Farmers' objectives and priorities are manifested in what they do on their farms.
Planning to change farmers' management is best done with their priorities in
mind. Government also has priorities; two examples are earning foreign exchange
and producing cheap food for urban dwellers, however unless changes promoted to
meet government priorities also improve farmers satisfaction of their own
priorities they are unlikely to be adopted. Thus in planning adaptive
experimentation it is important to be aware of farmers priorities.
Farmers have to satisfy their priorities with the resources at their disposal.
Again, if adaptive experimentation is to be relevant, it must result in improved
management practices which can be implemented within the level of resources farmer
are able and willing to invest. For example; a farmer presently earning Kw 100
in cash each year is unlikely to adopt a new maize production package costing
Kw 100 or even Kw 50. The inherent risk is as unacceptable to him as a major
speculation involving 100% or even 50% of our current income levels would be to
most of us! Appropriate experimentation gives results which can be implemented
within the resource base available to small farmers. Thus in planning relevant
experiments we need to be aware of their resource endowments.
3.2. The Dominance of subsistence objectives in Serenje farming
With restricted access to urban markets and a poorly developed retail distribu-
tion system the dominant objective of Serenje farmers is to be ensure an adequate
food supply for their families, day by day, year in year out. They achieve
this by on farm production of the constituents of their preferred dishes. This
is their priority, and the satisfaction of cash needs may be subordinated to it
in their management decisions. The predominant dish among the Lala people of
the zone is a stiff paste or porridge called Bwali locally. Farmers were asked
to express their first and second preferences for bwali made from the main
starch crops, only Finger millet, the traditional starch staple and maize a
newer staple, featured prominently. The results are shown in Table 5.
Table 5. Farmers preferences for the base staple for bwali (%)
Starch source No No Finger Maize Sorghum Cassava
response preference Millet
1st preference 1 0 63 32 2 2
2nd preference 2 2 27 56 8 5
90% of farmers had a first or second preference for Firiger millet anm 88% a
first or second preference for maize. At the same time farmers were clear on
the relishes they preferred to complement the starch staples made into bwali;
90% expressed a positive preference for beans with bwali made from Finger Millet,
28% also preferred beans with maize based bwali while 60% prefedied to eat it.
with pumpkin leaves. Other important relishes used with bwali are bean and
cassava leaves, cowpea leaves and seeds and groundnuts. Banana and sweet potato
are important supplementary starch sources, they are not constituents of bwali,
the basic dish of the area, but together with groundnuts they are used as
'convenience' foods, easily prepared and satisfying by themselves.
- 10 -
Growing of these foods dominates farming activities in the area. Farmers
reported growing an average of 7.75 crop types each, the foods mentioned above
made up 6.83 of these. The percentages growing the main foods are shown in
Table 6. The proportion of farmers growing the main foods (%)
It seems likely that pumpkin and cowpea, usually grown intercropped at very low
"densities in the maize fields and tended by the women, are not always recognized
as a crop. They are probably grown more widely than the figures suggest.
During the pre-survey farmers reported that no basic foods are commonly purchased.
In years when yields are poor there will be some interfarm transactions in finger
millet, beans, Sweet potatoes and groundnuts, and families may buy maize grainor
flour from local shops, These occurrences are intermittent. To confirm that
farms are usually self supporting in food farmers were asked when they last
purchased maize, gram or flour due to empty stores at home, 43% reported no
purchases, 32% 1978, 10% 1977 and 15% earlier years.
For Serenje farmers with the majority operating close to subsistence levels,
reliability in food supply is particularly important. Cash is scarce and a
major disaster with their food crops means real hardship for their families.
The sample were asked which was the worst season for farming in recent years,
answers ranged from 1970 to 1978. Asked what problems these bad seasons
brought 73% of the sample specified acute food shortage before the new harvest.
February, March and April before the new harvest in May are most frequently the
difficult months for starch staples. Cassava provides a good fall back crop
for this period and cassava flour, though not a preferred starch staple,
may either be used alone or to dilute failing supplies of finger millet or
maize flour. The pattern of starch consumption over the year is geared to
the fact that maize, and particularly the hybrids, are poor stores. Maize
is usually eaten as soon as it is harvested with finger millet, an earlier
maturing crop, used until the maize harvest. Residual finger millet is then
stored used for beer and again for bwali once the maize store is empty. If
necessary cassava flour is used to supplement both maize and finger millet
towards the new harvest. Scarcity of starch sources is a serious though
infrequent problem. Over 50% of farmers claimed never to have run down their
stocks of finger millet before the new harvest.
Two other management strategies 'cover' the eventuality of a seasonal scarcity
and give flexibility to adjust to such a situation:
(1) Finger millet is the basis for home brewing. preferred for beer by
93% of the farmers. Brewing is reduced when the amount left in
store indicates a food problem.
(2) Early dambo plantings of maize, particularly the quicker maturing
Lala varieties, Namulenga and Tunserika, can give new maize available
Food (starches) Food (relishes)
Maize 97 Beans 87
Cassava 93 Groundnuts 82
Finger millet 90 Pumpkin 58
Sweet Potato 82 Cowpea 33
- 11 -
as early as December. 48% of farmers reported using green maize
from the field by the end of March although the main maize harvest
months were June and July.
Problems with beans as the basic relish are more widespread due to heavy
weevil damage in store. Leaves from new season plantings of beans, cowpeas
and pumpkins become available in December and January, and the difficult period
for greens is October, November and early December.
A number of management strategies are used to supplement supplies over this
(1) Darbo grown vegetables are used, having been planted in August
and September in the valley bottoms.
(2) Purpkin, bean and even sweet potato leaves, collected during
the April/June period, are dried and stored for use late in the year.
(3) Fresh cassava leaves are used.
One further seasonal feature of the food supply pattern is the use of Sweet
potatoes and groundnuts as 'convenience foods' requiring little preparation
during the time of finger millet harvest. Traditionally, when the Chiteme
fields were cut new each year, women would stay at the fields during harvest
and men would be cutting in the new field. Food taken would be sparsely inter-
planted maize cobs, sweet potatoes and groundnuts. With the decrease in
Chiteme the need for these convenience foods is reduced, but 68% of the families
still report using sweet potato predominenantly through this harvest period.
Overall food supply is a dominant consideration in decisions on their cropping
pattern and the crop calendar for Serenje farmers.
3.3. Cash incomes among Serenje farmers.
Since the establishment of local Namboard depots on the road network
cash is playing a larger role with Serenje farmers. While cash income is
still a subordinate objective, dominated by family food requirements, hybrid
maize, the major cash source, has dual possibilities; it can also serve as
food, this is probably a major reason for its adoption by Serenje farmers.
Table 6 sets out the major cash sources and approximate income among the
surveyed farmers. The overall average reported cash income is Kw. 268 per farm,
with an average of Kw. 214 reported from on farm sources. Farm sources used
by a major proportion of growers were maize, beans, groundnuts and chickens,
with bananas, fruit and vegetables and eggs less important. Farmers reported
making their maize sales after the main harvest from July onwards, most other
items were sold irregularily over the year as a need for cash arose. 25% of
householders were receiving funds from family members working away, predominantly
in the mines.
3.4. Land in Serenje farming
Land in the study area is abundant and can be used by farmers without any formal
arrangements for ownership. User rights predominate and the original user has
some hold over the land while it is fallow. Another farmer who would use land
in fallow should have the consent of the original user.
TABLE 7. SOURCES OF CASH INCOME IN SERENJE SURVEY AREA.
Cash Farmers --------------------- Kwacha level ------------------------- Average Average
source- deriving 10 10-29 30-49 50-99 100-199 200-299 300-399 400+ iSdllers sample.
% No. Kw. Kw.
Maize 93 56 1 2 8 14 17 9 2 3 147 137
Beans 77 46 13 13 10 6 3 1 42 32
Groundnut 58 35 17 10 7 1 18 11
Banana 37 22 18 4 7 2
Fruit/Veg. 35 21 9 7 4 1 20 7
Other crops. 27 16 8 3 3 1 1 24 6
Chickens 67 40 19 8 10 2 1 20 13
Eggs 45 27 21 4 1 1 14 6
Family 25 15 1 6 3 4 1 53 13
Casual 35 21 11 5 2 2 1 25 8
Other 13 8 .1 1 1 2 2 244 33
________________ __________________ ________________ 1
Overall mean Kw
On farm sources Kw 214
- 13 -
The average population density of two persons per square kilometre is very low
and within the carrying capacity of the original Chitemene system. However
the tendency for people to settle close to the road network and the concern of
the authorities with soil degradation if Chitemene continued under an increasing
population density have effectively halted the traditional system. This
clustering of people has raised the effective density locally. Access to new
land is more restricted than when population was dispersed and localised soil
degradation will be a problem in future. Despite this land is still abundant
in terms of the cultivation needs of the resident population.
In the study area surveyed farmers each had an average of just below 3.00 hectares
under cultivation. Farmers reported the number of seasons they would continue
using the same piece of land-21% said 2 years, 40% said 3 years and 17% each
said 4 and 5 years. Nobody responded more than 5 years. Clearly, although
Chitemene practice is considerably reduced, shifting cultivation remains the
major method for maintaining soil.fertility. 77% farmers reported having cleared
new land in the five seasons since 1974. A general sequence of two finger
millet crops and then two or three crops of maize or maize mixtures was found
common in the pre-survey. Almost universally farmers gave 'Tall green grass on
black soil' as the key indicator in looking for new areas to open for cultiva-
tion. Dambo margins are sought out for their special characteristics of water
retention allowing an extended growing season; both for early and late plantings.
Some of the sequences for the traditional subsidiary gardens are still observed
in the area, a major one is for the Mabala gardens; small circles are burned,
each round a single tree on upland soil and are sown with Finger Millet.
Mounds are made between the burned patches and planted to sorghum, maize, sweet
potato, cassava, beans cow pea and pumpkin in a very complex and apparently
haphazard mixture. However although vestiges are still in evidence, Chitemene
and its associated systems are no longer the major land use systems in the
3.5. Labour in Serenje farming
Farm labour in the study area is mainly provided by the family. Family size
averaged just over 7 persons among survey farmers with 3.25 of these being
over 15 years old and so of working age. 34, that is 57% of households,
reported a total of 60 family members working away from the farm. 40% of
those working away were in the mines, clerics, Teachers, labourers and farmers
were other dominant occupations. 75% of those working off the farm were living
away from the area. In the pre-survey it was clear that only a very small
minority of atypical farmers employed permanent labourers on their farms and
no question on permanent labourers was asked in the survey. 50% of surveyed
farmers reported hiring temporary labour, most of them hired casual labour
two or three times in the year.
3.6. Capital in Serenje farming
There is very limited equipment used in Serenje farming. All families have
axes and hoes, the basic tools in the traditional farming of the area. 9 farmers
or 15% reported owning oxen and ploughs and a further 13% reported owning oxen.
95% of farmers reported the use of cash as working capital to purchase recurrent
inputs. There was a very wide range of spending related to income levels.
Table 7 shows four income groups, their level of expenditure on inputs and the
proportions in each group using the major inputs purchased in the area.
- 14 -
Table .8. Working capital expenditure by income group
------------- -Kwacha levels------
Income Group 0-99 100-199 200-299 300+
Average level of 54 163 245 524
No of farmers 10 17 15 18
% of sample 17 28 25 30
Working capital 49 69 80 146
% of cash inccmie 91 42 32 28
Hired labour 40 29 33 60
Hired machinery 10 12 27 50
Owning plough 0 12 20 33
Basal fert. maize 80 100 93 89
Top dressing naize 70 82 80 100
Basal ferc. FM 10 12 20 '22
Stalkborer control 0 12 20 33
It is of interest at this stage to point out the very high level of use of
yield or land augmenting inputs, particularly fertilizer use on maize, and
to note the uniformity of adoption across income groups. Contrast this with
the modest use of working capital on labour augmenting inputs and the particu-
larily strong relationship between owning and hiring machinery and income levels.
The average amount spent by survey farmers was Kw 91.5, 37% of the average
cash income across the sample. This is an unusually high proportion of income
to be invested in farm businesses of this size. The 70% of survey farmers
with lower cash incomes averaged Kw 166 per family and made an average outlay
of Kw 68 or 41% of reported incomes.
- 15 -
4. FARM MANAGEMENT IN THE SERENJE STUDY AREA
4.1. Introduction ..
Farm Management is the decisions farmers take in allocating their resources
to production enterprises in order to satisfy their priorities. Such manage-
ment is itself a resource and, in any farming population, some are better at
it than others. In this section we look at how farms are managed descri-
bing the cropping pattern and the flow of agricultural activities over the
year, and go on to evaluate the influence of farmers' priorities, circumstances
and resource endowments on these patterns to understand why farms are managed
in this way. This understanding will allow:a focus on areas of management
that are flexible, where changes could be readily absorbed.
4.2. The Enterprise pattern
We have seen how the major food crops are grown by most Serenje farmers.
Within the range of food crops maize, finger millet and beans are the predo-
minant resource users. Very approximate acreage figures for the main crops
are set out in Table 9. below.
Table 9. Approximate areas grown of the major crops (ha)
Crop % growing Ha/grower Av.Ha/Sample,
Maize 95 1.51 1.43
Finger Millet 90 .79 .71
Beans 87 .56 .48
Sweet Potato 82 .20 .16
Cassava 78 .51 .40
Among these major crops maize is often interplanted with low densities of
pumpkins, cowpeas and sweet potato. 18% of maize plantings were interplanted
with beans though S0% of bean plantings were reported as pure. As we have
seen Groundnuts, bananas and pumpkins are also grown by the majority of
farmers though the areas of these crops are small. In addition to the crop
enterprises 30% of surveyed farmers kept cattle and a very small minority of
these (2 farmers) had some sheep and goats.
Several plantings of the major crops were made by a number of farmers and
Table 10shob% the-proportion of farmers making multiple plantings.
Table 10. Multiple plantings of the main crops
% farmers making plantings
Crop 1 2 3 4
Maize 32 38 15 10
Beans 40 38 7
Finger millet 50 30 -
Sweet potato 75 7- -
Cassava 68 5 -
4.3. The Crop calendar
Table 11. sets out the detailed crop calendar for the major crops 'n the farming
system; It shows plantings, use from the field and harvests by two weekly
intervals over the year July to une. Figures in the body of the table are perce-
ntages of the number of plantings made, the number of plantings and harvests are
shown in the left hand column. Several features of the farming system illustrated
in the calendar are noteworthy..
(1) The concentration of planting during the period November to mid-January.
(2) The concentration of harvests in May and June
(3) The incidence of earlj planting and early usage of both maize and
(4) The complementarity ol harvesting of finger millet and sweet potatoes.
.(5) The predominant use oF cassava in the period before the new harvest
of starch grains.
Table 12 looks more closely at concentration of plantings over the period
November to March. Plantings to al 361 and the figures in table 12. are percentages
of this total. The table shows tow the emphasis in plantings changes over the
'November to March period. It sets out what proportion of total plantings occurs
in each two week period and how this proportion is broken down between these five
Table 12. Farmers planting sequence and priorities
Crop Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar
E L E L E L E L E L
n 361 11 7 6 13 18 2 8 2 8 4
---------% of monthly totals-------
Maize 32% 72 92 1 36 12 12 -
Beans 237 15 4 15 2 11 12 43 75 55 56
Finger Millet 18% 3 27 47 35 38 .3 12 3 -
Sweet Potato 15% 3 4 10 11 29 38 33 24 6
Cassava 12% 7 7 4 12 20 25 17 38
% area established 13 9 1 14 16 2 6 2 5 4
Maize receives initial priority at the start of the rains in November with Finger
Millet taking over in late December through to the end of January. Sweet Potato
increases in importance in January but by mid February gives way to both Beans
and Cassava. Establishment of tlese two crops continues into April.
Using the average area per planting for each of these five main crops a profile
showing the proportion of land pit under crops each fortnight can be developed.
It is set out in as the bottom line in table 12. Some 88% of the 'r6tal planted
area was established during this period. Maize, with an average arTa per planting
of ,74 ha, and to a lesser extent finger millet with .58 ha per planting., dominate
the profile. However the profile is not markedly different fromthe profile of
ESTABLISHMENT AND USAGE
(Z OF PLANTINGS).
CROP. July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May June
E L E L E L E L 3 L E L E L E L E L E L E L E L
116 plantings. ( 1 1 1 3 2 3 3 24 20 21 14 7 1 -
57 used from field% 1 2 3 4 3 2 3, 4 10 10 5 2 -
110 harvested. ( 19 13 5 3 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 3 2 5 8 17 11
82 plantings. ( 1 1 1 1 1 1 7 1 11 1 8 1 18 7 20 11 3 4 -
19 used from field % 1 2 2 4 1 1 4 4 1 1 -
75 harvested ( 9 6 4- -- -- -- 2 1 1 2 6 13 10 18 18
-- -- 1
33 36 5 1
45 24 15 8
53 plantings. ( 2 2 11 9 36 6 19 13 2 -
10 used from field.% 2 2 8 4 4 -
37 harvested. ( -- -- -- 2 4 15 19 8
44 new plantings. ( -- -- -- 7 9 5 18 14 5 11 14 14 5 -
36 Old used and %
harvested ( 2 2 5 2 2 16 23 2 12 2 5 7 5 -
- 17 -
(% OF PLANTINGS).
- 18 -
The detailed crop calendar is perhaps the best single set of information
in understanding the farming system. It manifests the subsistence priorities of
small farmers and profiles the allocation of the basic land and labour resources
over the agricultural vear. We now turn to further examination of resource
allocation and how it constrains farm productivity.
4.4. Farm Management and resource limitations in Serenje.
The basicresources of the Serenje farming system are land and labour. Capital,
in this situation, is an augmenting resource: it can be used to offset
deficiencies in either land, as in the purchase of maize fertilizer, or labour,
as with purchased oxen and plough or hired machinery. As we have seen land,
at least in terms of quantity, "is not a problem. Quality of land however is
poor and the dominant soil types require supplementary plant foods to produce
4.5 The soil fertility maintenance limitation.
Farmers in Serenje are already using their working capital for the purchase
of fertilizer, mainly for use on hybrid maize. 90% of farmers reported
fertilizer purchases of an average Kw 55 each: applying approximately 1 bag
each of basic and top dressing per acre of maize. Over the sample as a whole
maize fertilizer purchases represented 18.5% of average cash incomes and 54%
of cash spending on all farm inputs.
The need for safeguarding soil quality by a system of fertility maintenance has
been with the Lala for a long time. The old Chitemene system recognized the
need for constant movement of the major crops, and the use of forest fallow
to allow soil fertility to recover. Full regeneration of the cut trees
required perhaps 30 years and agriculturists of the 1950's, Allan, Peters and
others have detailed how increasing population density reduces the period of
regeneration and leads to degradation of the soils and of the system itself.
Comparisons of finger millet productivity under Chitemene and hoeing were
carried out as early as the 1920's and the following comments are extracted.
'Control yields on hoed fields run at about 25% of the yield levels
under Chitemene. The results show the value of heat and ash in
finger millet cultivation. After hoeing germination is poor and
weed growth heavy and very difficult to control. Millet produced
by a method other than Chitemene but at the same yields would require:
(1) Reduced weed infestation.
(2) Improved surface soil structure.
(3) The equivalent of 270 Kg/ha of CAN added'
With the demise of Chitemene the Lala have tackled the soil fertility problem
by spending a significant part of their cash income on fertilisers for maize,
their new major crop, however, as we have seen, the basis of their soil
management remains shifting cultivation, most fields being used between three
and five years.
Over the long term management of these poor soils will be an increasing problem.
In the short term a continuing reliance on shifting cultivation has important
implications for settlement and service policies. "
The surveyed camp areas held between 60 and 200 families. Within a shifting
cultivation system of soil fertility maintenance clustered settlement creates
a problem of access to new land. While from a roads and servicing point of
view the bigger the groups the better, the
- 19 -
restricted access to new land will accelerate soil degradation. Planning
can find a compromise. Taking the two extreme sizes of groups found: 60 and
200 families, and making some assumptions give us a comparison.
(1) We should allow for an expansion of cultivated area per family,
say 4 hectares each.
(2) Cleared land can be used for 3 years.
(3) Afour kilometre walk to fields is the maximum desirable.
(4) 80% of the land is usable for cultivation.
Afour kilometre radius gives 5027 hectares, 4000 ha of which is usable.
Look at our extreme cases under these assumptions.
Families. 60 200
Hectares under cultivation. 240 800
Years for regeneration.
(assuming 3 years use) 50 15
With 60 family grouping regeneration is unnecessarily long, with 200 families
much too short. Under the added assumption that 30 years regeneration
is adequate to restore fertility a village of 100 families is a feasible size
of group. A deliberate policy of settlement is not recommended but existing
mechanisms for land allocation and service deployment could create pressures
to influence the size of clusters.
4.6. The seasonal labour supply limitation.
The key short term resource constraint in the Serenje farming system is
seasonal labour supply. The crop calendar in Table II shows two periods of
(1) November to January when maize and finger millet as the
dominant crops in the system are being established.
(2) May to July when finger millet, beans and maize are being
Farmers were asked which months they and their families have to work hardest
on the farm. 92% responded and their answers are set out in Table 13 below:-
Table 13. Months of hardest work on Serenje farms.
Periods. Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May
Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun
responses. 20 58 7 4 2
responses. 20 58 7 4 2 7
82% of farmers said they and their families spent between 7 10 hours out
in the fields at these periods. Clearly the land preparation and planting
period immediately after the start of the rains is the busiest time of the
year for by far the majority of Serenje farmers.
This cultivation peak is a relatively new problem for the Lala. Historically
the labour constraints with traditional Chitemene system were in May and June,
when the women were harvesting the finger millet and the men lopping trees
for the new ash gardens. Although finger millet was planted in December
- 20 -
little or no cultivation was done, the seed being broadcast into the residual
ash after burning in October. Nor was weeding required. Traditionally land
preparation by digging was limited to the subsidiary gardens, a relatively small
proportion of the area cropped. With the virtual demise of Chitemene and the
new dominance of convential digging for seed bed preparation a new season labour
constraint has evolved.
The rainfall profile is unimcdal, rain beginning in November and finishing the
end of March. Classically the start of reliable rains is the optimum time for
planting, probably the latter half of November. The crop calendar clearly shows
the main planting period (with land preparation preceding it) as December and
early January, after the start of the rains proper.
4.7. Managing the planting labour peak
Serenje farmers have a range of management strategies, some traditional and some
new, to help alleviate the labour constraint at this time, these are discussed
(1) Spreading the planting effort
Although there is a concentration of planting effort in December and early
January plantings start before October (5%) and last until April (6%), a period of
seven months. Management compromises make this possible.
(a) Early planting of beans and maize before the rains set in, and late
planting of beans in March and April are often (53%) on dambo margins.
This low lying location with water retentive soils'allows plants to use
water accumulated from scattered showers before the main rains start, and
to use residual moisture after the end of the rains.
(b) Cassava, as a drought resistant crop, if established at the end of the
rains will carry over the dry season. Plantings are made mainly from
February through to the end of April (60%).
(c) Beans, a short term crop, are particularly suitable for late planting.
When planted late to mature in the dry season in June they avoid disease
problems associated with fruiting and maturing while rain is falling.
This disease problem with beans is taken into more detail in Section 4.9.
(d) The finger millet varieties used are of shorter duration than the maizes
and need to dry out after the rains are over in sunny weather to avoid
serious head diseases. Farmers retain their traditional December plantir-
time, originally dictated by the delay required after the burn in Chitemene
to allow beneficial nitrifying organisms to re-establish themselves. With
relatively little burning to give these benefits planting time should
now be more flexible. Sweet potato also retains its traditional planting
time to ensure its maturity for use during the finger millet harvest in
(2) Use of capital to augment family labour in land preparation
A second set of management strategies is the use of capital to augment family
labour during the cultivation peak. It takes three forms: ownership of oxen and
plough, the hire of machinery and the hire of labour.
- 21 -
(a) The Lala are not traditionally cattle keepers but the ownership
of oxen and ploughs has offered one way to alleviate the labour
bottleneck in land preparation. 15% of the farmers surveyed
reported owning oxen and ploughs, a further 13% reported owning
oxen but no plough. Eight farmers owning ploughs reported hiring
them out to other farmers.
(b) Seventeen farmers that is 28% reported hiring tractors or
oxploughs. (Two farmers hired both). These farmers reported a
total of hirings of which 22 were in the period November to
January (16 in November). Farmers hiring paid about Kw 36 for
use of the machinery.
(c) Thirty farmers, that is 50%, reported 66 hirings of labour during
the season. Table 14 gives details of the hirings.
Table 14.. Labour hirings; operations and timing
operation hirings % of hirings by month.
OperatNo % J F M A M J J A S 0 N D
Stump 15 23 6 4 3 4 2 2 2 -
Dig 43 65 5 2 3 8 3 33 11
Weed 7 11 1 5 5
Pick 1 1 1 -
Total 66 100 6 13 7 11 4 2 5 36 16
Sixty five percent of hirings were for digging, mainly in November
December as would be expected. However a significant number of
hirings for digging were associated with stumping during the end
of the rains in February, March and April.
Over the sample 57% of. farmers supplemented their family labour resources by
one or another of these methods to help extend the scale of their cultivated area.
(3) Dry Season cultivation
The pattern of hirings, with most of the stumping being done between February
and August, illustrates a further management strategy used by farmers which
reduces the labour required at the beginning of the rains, this is 'back end'
cultivation. The traditional Lala system was highly active just at the end of
the rains in preparation for the new season. Trees were lopped for new Chiteme,
to be fired in October and finger millet planted in December. Other gardens
were 'mounded'; the grass turned under as green manure ready for a crop of maize,
sweet potatoes or other staples when the new rains arrived. These mounded
gardens were often planted up, right at the end of the rains, with beans. The
traditional activity to some extent persists, but these days farmers are heavily
involved in stumping and digging, at this period while the ground is wet and
workable. Farmers were asked if they prepared land for the new season at the
back end of the old one in April May and June, 78% said they always did and a
further two percent said if labour was not too busy. 13% replied they were too
busy with the current crop to prepare lands at this time. It is seen to be
fairly common practice though only 13% of total maize plantings were established
on fields prepared at the end of the previous rains. Since most are newly cleared
fields, finger millet is most commonly the first crop.
- 22 -
4.8. Compromises in Management due to seasonal labour ge
As well as adopting strategies to alleviate seasonal lab .i: shortages Serenje
farmers are obliged to adjust crop management to their resource endowments.
These adjustments, in many cases, amount to compromises in terms of the technical
ideals of crop management. The major compromises affect the management of the
maize crop and are described briefly here, they are considered in more detail in
1. Seedbed preparation
As has been noted, labour requirements in the May July period dominated-the
scale of activity in the traditional system. The reduction of Citeme practice
has created a new emphasis on more convential land preparation techniques more
closely related to the rainfall pattern. Whereas the traditional system balanced
ash and dug seedbeds, digging now dominates land preparation practice. Tradition-.
ally all dug seedbeds were mounded. The concentration of the land preparation
effort into the November to January period has required more rapid digging
techniques, including ploughing by both tractor and oxen. Table 15 shows the
breakdown of four types of seedbed among the five major crops. It demonstrates
the dominance of flat seedbeds for maize and finger millet, with some beans also
being planted flat. It is likely from other experience, though not confirmed in
the Serenje area, that flat seedbeds are less labour intensive but also less
well prepared, giving poorer weed control than mounds or ridges. Although a
distinction has been drawn here between mounding and ridging the two tend to
merge in the field. There is a continuum of all stages between mounds as distinct
islands, as in the traditional gardens, and the usual idea of ridges as parallel,
Table 15. Seedbed types (%) of the 5 major crops
Seedbed () Maize Beans finger Sweet Cassava
Flat 48 29 92 4 5
Ridged 32 -
Mounded 20 71 4 96 95
Ash 4 -
In maize, the crop with the largest cultivated area, there is a clear relation-
ship between time of planting and the type of seedbed. Early plantings
before December, andmore akin to the time of planting the traditional maize
gardens are 74% on mounds or ridges. Plantings made in December or later
are 74% on the flat. This is probably due to the increasing urgency of
planting in this later period, though this was not specifically followed up
in the survey.
2. Planting times.
Major compromises are made in the times of planting, particularly of maize,
the crop occupying almost half the cultivation area. The SR52 and ZH1 varieties
used require about 170 days to maturity at this latitude. Rainfall from mid
November to the end of March gives 135 days, with perhaps 20 days residual
on these upland soils, this totals 155 days expected moisture. As has been
illustrated in Table 12 maize planting dominates activity in November.
Nevertheless,with the labour intensity of land preparation by hand, 43% of
- 23 -
maize plantings are made after the end of November with expectations of 140
days moisture available at that date and 22% are made after mid December with
expectations of 125 days moisture. The potential of hybrids with a 170 maturity
period must be seriously compromised by December plantings.
3. Weeding timing and frequency.
From early December maize and finger millet and to a lesser extent sweet potato
plantings are very competitive. Finger millet and sweet potato establishment
continues to be intensive until mid January. By this all maize plantings made
prior to mid-December, that is 78% of the total, should have been weeded and
most will be overdue for top dressing.
Farmers reported on the number of times each planting of maize was weeded:
12% reported no weeding, 55% reported one weeding, 29% two weedings and 4%
three weedings. Farmers reported the average height of the crops at first
weeding as 61.5 cms. Those applying top dressing reported the average height
of the crop at that application to be 75 cms. The major part of the crop is
under weeded, weeded late, and the top dressing is applied late. Weedy
conditions were evident in the maize throughout the field visits to the area.
A priori an increasing weed problem is also likely in finger millet.
These then are the major compromises in the management of maize forced onto
farmers by the heavy labour requirement of the system in this November to
January period. To be acceptable development opportunities will have to either
avoid increased labour commitments over this period or by their nature reduce
- 24 -
5. FARM MANAGEMENT AND HAZARD AVOIDANCE IN SERENJE
Uncertainty about the weather, pests and diseases, and the level of prices of
both crops for sale and foods or inputs to be purchased, creates risks in farm
management which are much more serious for small than for large farmers. This
is demonstrated by an example. The production of a crop can be reduced say by
one third one year in four by one of these hazards. Table 16 sets out the
comparative impact on large, medium and small farmers.
Table 16. The effect of hazards on different sizes of farms
Scale of farm Large Medium Small
income Kw 1800 900 300
Value of food needed
for subsistence Kw 450 360 250
Proportion of Income %
absorbed by food needs 25 40 83
low production year
1 in 4 low ) Kw 1200 600 200
production year )
None of the farmers can anticipate which year this will happen and this is the
source of the uncertainty. However, whereas the large and even the medium scale
farmers can absorb the bad year, for the small farmer, because the effect is to
reduce production below his subsistence needs, it jeopardises the very survival
of his family. Small farmers clearly cannot afford to allocate their resources
to produce this outcome. They must manage their farms differently from large
and medium scale farmers. Similarly, small farmers are uncertain of the results
of innovation, and will only take small steps away from their present management
routines. Their families are at risk if the new practices fail. In the Serenje
situation it is important to understand the uncertainties faced by local farmers
and the management strategies they use to avoid the hazards these imply.
5.2. The identification of factors recognized as hazards by Serenje farmers
Survey farmers were asked which they considered the worst season for farming in
recent years. Answers ranged from 1970-78 and 10 farmers (17%) felt that none
were particularly bad. Farmers specifying a year were asked what made that
year bad and what was the effect on their family. 88% of these farmers said
the effect was an acute shortage of food supplies for the family before the
new harvests were ready. Three causes dominated the responses; labour shortage
(18%), Too much rain finishing late (43%), too little rain (18%). There was no
mention of pest and disease problems, and no reference to low market prices.
Farmers were asked for their opinion of 1978 as a season 27 or 45A felt it had
been a poor season, of these 18 said it was poor because the heavy rains had
rotted the maize crop standing in the field.
- 25 -
A number of problems had been identified in discussion with farmers during the
pre-survey. Survey farmers were asked if these were problems for them, and if
so, in which recent season had each problem been most marked. Table 17 sets out
the responses, it excludes non-responses but percentages are based on the total
Table 17. The incidence of observed problems in Serenje farming (%)
No Not Aware c
Problem Not 1978 1977 1976 1975 Aware c
problem Recent problem
Heavy late rain rots cobs 27 3 23 3 18 15 62
Early finish to rains, late 35 7 7 27 10 8 59
planted beans fail
Early finish to rains, maize 40 8 7 22 12 7 56
does not mature properly
Poor germination of finger 40 7 13 20 12 3 55
Heavy early rain waterlogs 58 2 17 12 3 5 39
maize seed poor germination
A high proportion of respondents (53%) attributed poor finger millet germination
to heavy early rains.
Finally, though no farmers identified pests or diseases as primary causes of
poor seasons, the sample were asked on which crops are losses from pests and
diseases are rost serious for him and his family. 48% named maize as the crop
suffering, a further 257 named it as the second most serious. 75% of farmers
responding maize named stalk borer as the most serious cause of pest and disease
losses on maize. 48% of farmers named beans as the crop with losses from pests
or diseases either the nost or next most serious for their families. A wide
range of causes was given with 'Twashiku' as most common.
67% of those farmers reporting Stalk borer as most or next most serious assessed
the level of attack as 25% of plants or less. Whereas, although numbers were
relatively small, 67% of those reporting Twashiku as most or next most serious
assessed the damage at 75% of plants or more. The data suggests that maize
damage is frequent but of relatively low severity, while bean damage is less
frequent but severe when it occurs. 23% of maize plantings were reported treated
for stalk borer; most were treated when plants were between 100 and 125 cms high.
In an effort to try to relate pest attack on beans to management practices
farmers were asked to assess the pest attack on their 1978 plantings as None,
Light, average or heavy. Responses were tabulated against other management
practices but no clear relationships between degree of pest attack and husbandry
practices were observed. The only tentative relationship found was that a
higher proportion of very late bean plantings, after the beginning of March
suffered 'average' or 'heavy' attacks (52%) than for earlier plantings (31%).
No difference was detected between dambo and upland plantings, mixed or pure
stands or whether leaves were picked from the plants.
Finally, 62% of farmers reported that weevils were a major problem in keeping
beans in store through :he dry season.
In summary Serenje farmers identify rainfall variability as the major source of
uncertainty influencing the production levels of their major cro-s. Table .1.
sets out the probability levels for monthly rainfall over the growing season at
Serenje Boma. While there is clearly no dramatic problem, December can bring
heavy rains in a high proportion of years, and, looking at the probabilities
for October and April, if shorter periods were taken for analysis, both the
first half of November and the latter half of March might well be susceptible
to failures. Additionally, although Namboard depots operate in the area, the
sale price of crops other than maize and purchased food prices are sources of
uncertainty for Serenje farmers in the absence of organised channels for marketing
The presurvey discussions with farmers found more emphasis on the pest and
disease problems of beans than is apparent from the survey results. Farmers
were adamant that their whole bean crop was sometimes lost, particularly, as
is indicated tentatively from the survey figures, the very late plantings.
5.3. Hazard management in Serenje farming
In the face of these uncertainties of rainfall and, to a more limited extent,
of pests and diseases Serenje farmers manage their resources to insure against
their hazardous effects. Facets of hazard management are listed below:
(1) Maize, the major crop.
The fact that maize is both the major food and the major cash crop is at least
partially responsible for the rapid adoption of hybrid varieties. Its dual
purpose role gives farmers flexibility to divert the product to one end use or
the other depending on the season. In the pre-survey, although farmers were
critical of the poor storage performance of the hybrids, many reported holding
part of the crop for food in addition to local varieties and finger millet.
70% of farmers reported making maize sales on the September December period
rather than immediately after harvest.
(2) Finger millet storage
Finger millet is also a dual purpose crop. It is made into bwali, the staple
food and into beer. It is a regular feature of the Lala household for the
wife to brew beer. If there is a danger of foodstocks running low; a poor maize
harvest or even poor germination of the new season plantings, brewing slows up
to give continuing stocks of finger millet for making bwali. Families recognize
the superior storage qualities of finger millet, with virtually complete immunity
from weevils. Their consumption pattern treats finger millet as something of an-
insurance crop. Finger millet matures before maize and families in need will
begin to eat it. Once the maize crop is harvested however consumption immediately
switches to maize leaving finger millet in the store until the maize is finished:
This ensures the maize a relatively short storage period and reduces losses from
weevils to which the hybrid varieties are particularly prone. While these
management devices do not directly affect resource allocation, the products
themselves are a resource. With holding maize from sale may have important
repercussions for cash flow and the purchase of farm requisites in the new season.
(3) Cassava as a crop in the system. Cassava is not a preferred food for the
Lala, it is basically an insurance crop. Flour from the roots is used to supplement
flour from the preferred grain staples, particularly in the period prior to the
- 27 -
new grain harvest. (see Table ll.P.17). Fresh cassava leaves are used to
supplement other relish supplies, through the dry season as other sources of
greens dry up. Cassava, as an insurance crop, is not a priority for establishment
and is mainly planted out of the November to January labour peak during the period
February to April. Cassava is planted on mounds, preparation is labour intensive
and, at this period it competes with the planting of beans and the weeding of
the major crops, maize and finger millet.
(4) Use of bean leaves for relish. Anticipating a scarcity of green material
at the end of the dry season 50% of farmers reported drying and storing bean
and pumpkin leaves. The leaves are picked in the April to June period for use
in the dry season. Similarily a higher proportion of farmers use bean leaves
fresh early in the new season' 58% of bean plantings were used in this way.
3-4 weeks after planting leaves are picked 2 or 3 from each plant. Plants may
be picked over up to 6 times. Farmers believe the practice does not affect the
(5) Use of dambo margins. The exploitation of dambo margins to utilise the
moisture reserves in this typically low lying location is designed to offset the
uncertainty of the early rains, and insurance against a premature ending of the
rains. It is used for early plantings of maize and beans, and late plantings,
particularly of beans. This practice is beneficial in extending the useful
planting time. It complements the present labour peak rather than aggravating it.
These are the major management devices Serenje farmers use to insure against
the effects of uncertainty arising from rainfall variability and pest and disease
- 28 -
6. TRENDS AND DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES IN THE FARMING SYSTEM IN SERENJE
It is an important aspect in the investigation and improvement of farming systems
to know how they evolved over the recent past and what are current trends. Plans
for the development of systems will either reinforce, interrupt or reverse present
trends. Plans which interruDt or seek to reverse trends are working against
forces presently motivating farmers andhave to be particularly carefully prepared.
The Serenje system is rapidly evolving and the direction of its evolution will
be important in planning its improvement.
6.2. Trends in the Serenje farming system
Government pressure against Chitemene together with the restricted access to
new land created by a tendency for grouping rural families has forced
changes in finger millet management. Finger millet is now mainly grown on
cleared and cultivated fields. Experimental work has shown that, without the
benefits of burning to control weed emergence and to produce nitrifying bacteria;
or ash to provide basal plant foods, results are very poor. Even when fertilizer
is used weed interference is severe and difficult to control on land which is
repeatedly used for finger millet. During the pre-survey finger millet stands
observed in the field were very poor, and farmers complained that germination
was poor from ploughed seedbeds, growth was poor, and was observed poor, and
weed competition severe. Additionally the hard task of grinding finger millet
flour is loosing ground as women are able to carry maize to the hammer mill for
pounding. In the survey farmers were asked if they were producing more or less
finger millet, sweet potato and cassava than ten years agg. Answers were split
evenly between more and less. Reasons for growing more were standard answers;
more food, for all three crops, more beer for finger millet, and as dry season
food for both cassava and sweet potato. Reasons for growing less are more
interesting; 37% of all farmers mentioned shortage of labour and 18% mentioned
that maize was taking over.
The evidence from experimental work and from farmers discussions suggest that,
like most parts of Eastern Africa, finger millet will be replaced by maize. The
labour required to grow it by conventional management method is very intensive,
it has no market and cannot earn cash to cover the costs of fertilizer required
to give viable yields. On the other side of the coin hybrid maize has become a
major crop in the survey area, 88% of farmers reported buying hybrid maize seeds
for the 1978 season. 61% of plantings were of ZHI and 11% of SR52. 28% of
plantings were of the traditional Lala varieties. Farmers were asked the year
in which they first used purchased seed from Namboard. 92% of farmers reported
having used hybrid and in Figure .1. below the solid line shows the cumulative
seed adoption curve based on their responses. The broken line which closely
parallels it, is a similar curve for the build up of the use of fertilizer on
The curve show the very rapid build up of use of both hybrid maize seed and
fertilizer on maize after 1971. Hybrid maize appears to have moved into the area
as a response to several factors:
(1) Problems of access to new land created by people grouping on service
points and consequent difficulties in finger millet production.
(2) Improved access to Namboard outlets for maize and distribution
facilities for inputs.
(3) Increased cash demands by improved access to the distributive network.
- 29 -
FIGURE.1. The adoption of hybrid maize seed and fertilizer use in Serenje
level % of
- -- fertilizer
73 74 75
(4) Extension efforts better focused
through the improved service
This evolving change in crop proportions is parallelled by changing
seedbed preparation techniques. The use of oxploughs and availability of
tractors for hire encourage a transition to flat seedbeds which now
dominate other types in the finger millet and maize enterprises. Flat
seedbeds, although normally less labour intensive to prepare by hand than
ridges or mounds give poorer water and weed management. As far as weed
management is concerned, sacrifice of some control for more rapid seed-
bed preparation is another approach to spreading labour requirements. With
heavy rains of December in particular the poor water management inherent in
flat seedbed may aggravate waterlogging and germination problems.
6.3. Development opportunities in Serenje farming
Despite over 40% of farmers reporting a recent expansion in the production of
finger millet it is an expansion made possible by extensive management techniques
known to be unsuitable for continuing production of finger millet. Finger millet
is likely to disappear from the Serenje farming system. Its speed of demise
will probably be governed by how far the new development can replace its role
in the system. Its role has three main facets.
(1) A preferred base for making bwali
(2) An insurance grain, storing well, for use when maize is finished.
(3) A highly preferred base for home brewed beer.
- 30 -
It is the last of these, as a base for beer, where finger millet and sorghum
have persisted in many East and Central African farming systems. They bring a
preferred taste to the beer that is difficult to replace using maize as a base.
The demise of finger millet as a low productivity crop would bring wide benefits
to the Serenje farming system. The release of labour in December and January
would allow an extended area of more productive crops, or the improved management
of existing areas of crops. The release of labour from the intensive harvesting
and threshing operations in May and June would allow an increase in end of the
rains cultivation, further relieving the pressure in the November to January
period. It will allow more flexibility in the planting time of sweet potatoes,
closely geared to maturity for the finger millet harvest in May and June.
Finger millet will die its own death in the-system, development efforts which
complement the opportunities its demise brings will be most effective and two
thrusts are identified, relieving the labour bottleneck in November to January
period to allow a larger cultivated area or better management on present areas,
and enhancing the reliability of viable maize production and storage to reduce
the need for finger millet as a backup starch grain.
6.4. Relieving the November January labour peak
Strategies for relieving the labour bottleneck are already much in evidence
in the area. Government can re-inforce those strategies bringing them to the
service of an increasing proportion of the Serenje farm population. However
the service burden can probably only be spread over viable numbers by a carefully
thought out settlement strategy.
(1) Tractors for land preparation A full discussion of the pitfalls of planned
tractor services is beyond the scope of this report. With a four month main
season; October to January and a three month supplementary season at the end of
the wet season April to June, a tractor should have perhaps a 700 acre capacity
plus supplementary work on carrying maize to market. This should allow reasonable
hire rates. There are private operators already active in the area, mainly
however, with cheaply purchased ex government machines. It would seem preferable
to encourage private operators by finance and service arrangements rather than
have direct government hire services. Criteria for finance and service arrange-
ments would need part of an overall settlement strategy for the area. Incentives
could be organised in a way which will evolve a viable settlement pattern. We
noted under certain assumptions a group size of 100 families would allow a bush
fallow system with a carrying capacity of well over 10 per square kilometre,
much higher than Chitemene in which the limitation is created by the need for
wood to cut. One tractor could perhaps service four such groups, and under such
an assumption four groups clustered around a service centre, including a Namboafd
depot, would give a distance of between 5 and 6 kilometres to the satellite
villages from the centre.
(2) Oxen. The promotion of oxenisation among people who did not traditionally
keep cattle, has, like official tractor hire services, had disastrous results.
However, the people of the area have themselves begun to bring in oxen as one
answer to the pressures for land preparation. Enabling services could be a help
in holding a stock of equipment and spares and allowing credit for its purchase,
also in identifying sources of working animals and arranging training in their
(3) Encouragement of winter ploughing. A campaign to encourage'farmers to
cultivate lands during the April, May, June period would help sustain the efforts
made in the traditional system at this time. Timing of such cultivation and the
complementary operations required at the beginning of the rains should be based
on past, or the subject of some new, research work to evaluate alternatives.
- 31 -
6.5. Adapting management to the labour peak
The other side of the coin is to devise management practices which are adapted
to the labour pressures of the November January peak. It is in this area
that appropriate practices for improved maize production, the crop absorbing
the most labour over this period, can make a significant contribution to the
development of the Serenje farming system. From the discussion of the system
two areas of improved maize management stand out and will form a framework
for an adaptive research programme on maize for Serenje zone farmers.
(1) To improve the reliability of maize production as the major crop
for food and cash in the Serenje farming system, within the prevailing
natural circumstances of the zone.
(2). The high levels of purchased inputs being used on maize by Serenje
farmers are not receiving the complementary management required to
exploit them effectively. A more achievable management package
combining purchased seed, fertilizer use, planting time and weeding
6.6. New cash crops
Currently maize is the dominant cash crop in the system, the only crop produced
purposefully for the market. Successful strategies to alleviate the November/
January labour peak and improve the reliability of maize production and storage
will release significant amounts of labour resources in late December and
January from finger millet production. If maize is the crop with the highest
productivity for the use of January labour more will be grown for cash. On the
otherhand if an alternative cash crop with a 100-120 day growing season and
with a higher return to labour employed in January can be found, it may be a
more attractive alternative nationally than increasing marketed maize production.
With a high price being paid for beans it may be a more profitable alternative
than maize. (yield ratio say 1:5 price ratio say 1:8 suggests it may be more
profitable, assuming similar levels of January labour). Its present use as a
major protein source in the Lala diet gives it the possibility of the sane dual
role as food and cash crop which has helped popularise hybrid maize.
Given it is a crop in the present system, a new management system for beans
would, again like hybrid maize, stand the best chance of adoption. It would
have to fit within the existing system framework; Planted in early January and
a variety say 100-120 days to maturity. Pest and Disease susceptibility of
varieties and of this planting time would be an important area of adaptive
research. An assured market outlet at a known price would be another important
pre-requisite to a successful development effort on beans.
- 32 -
7. MAIZE MANAGEMENT AND ITS IMPROVEMENT IN THE SERENJE ZONE
This section forms the basis for planning an adaptive research programme on maize
for small farmers in Serenje. It covers the main components of maize management
under three heads:
(1) Present practice
(2) The reasons for present practice
(3) The possibilities for improving on present practice.
This section 7. is the focal "point of the demonstration. Here a decision is
reached on the management practices in which farmers could absorb improvement.
These will be the experimental variables in an adaptive maize research programme
for Serenje farmers. Interrelated groups of management practices are considered'
7.2. Land preparation and planting methods
(1) Present practice. A variety of seedbeds are used for maize by Serenje
farmers, the breakdown has been set out for total maize plantings in Table 15:
Mounding 20%, Ridging 32% and Flat 48%. Farmers usually employ more than one
type of seedbed, however some are wholly ridging their maize seedbeds, and
rather more are wholly cultivating on the flat.
Row spacing dominated the maize crop although 27% of plantings were at random,
half of these are associated with mounding. The range of interrow spacings in
the 73% of plantings made in rows are set out in Table 18. The average interrow
spacing was 80 cms; closer than the 90 cms recommended.
Table 18. Interrow spacingby type of seedbed (% of total)
Spacing than 81-90 91-100 100
80 cms. rows
ems ems cms
Mounding 1 6 1 13
Ridging 11 8 6 4 14
Flat 11 12 12 1 10
It is again worth noting the overlap between mounding, the traditional practice.
with small islands or elongated hills, and parallel ridges. In the field all
shades between these two were observed, and the enumerators had the responsibility
of categorising the fields on the survey farms. In the pre-survey interplant
spacing in rowed fields was observed to be close to recommended practice and no
measurement was made in the survey. There was also less variation in interrow
spacing than had been anticipated. There was also less correlation between
seedbeds and method of preparation than would have been expected. Table 19.
shows the types of seedbeed related to the methods of land pre~pr-ation.
- 33 -
Table 19. Seedbeds and
Seedbed type Total Mounding Ridging Flat
Main season ploughing 50 3 20 27
winter ploughing 6 1 4 1
main season hoeing 37 15 5 17
winter hoeing 7 2 3 2
Two points are of interest; the high proportion of land ridged after or during
ploughing and the high proportion left flat from hand hoeing. Not enough detail
was collected to know if the land is ridged while ploughing is hand ridged out
of ploughing or if the ridges are the result of pulling soil back around the
plants after weeding, which is widely practiced. The planting approach varies.
If the farmer has waited for the rains before starting cultivation, his plantings
will be staggered. He cultivates a piece then plants it up. If he has cultiva-
ted before the rains, when he judges the moisture is good he plants the area up
and then adds new pieces. No dry planting was encountered. The major maize
fields are planted as recommended by the Ministry of Agriculture. The rows are
lined with string and then a hole made every 'foot'. A shallow, wide hole is
made, the seed is put at the front of the hole, the basal fertilizer at the back
and the hole is covered. Only one seed is placed per hole. Some pumpkins,
cowpeas beans and sweetpotatoes are found as intercrops. Pumpkins and cowpeas
are usually at very low densities. The smaller maize plantings, often on mounds
are heavily intercropped with all or any of the local crops after the fashion
of the traditional mabala gardens. Dambo maize planted early in the season on
mounds often has one maize and one bean seed in the same planting hole.
(2) The reasons for present practice. As we have seen in section 6, farming
Ti the area is evolving rapidly. Methods of land preparation and the resulting
seedbed types are part of these developments. The move towards flat planting
is the result of response to the intensive labour peak of the November January
period. Flat seedbeds, whether prepared mechanically or by hoe are less labour
intensive than mounds or ridges prepared by hand. The major substitution is
both flat and ridged seedbeds taking over from the traditional ash seedbed of
the Chiteme. The evolving relationship between traditional and modern practice
is shown in Table 20 in the links between type of seedbed, time of planting and
Table 20. Links in plantings between maize varieties, types of seedbed and
time of planting (% of each time of planting)
Time of planting Before Early Late Early Late Jan.
Variety Seedbed Nov. Nov Nov Dec Dec.
Mounds 69 22 4 4 11
Lala Ridges 9 -
Flat 13 7 4 12 18 -
Mounds 12 4 4 -
Namboard Ridges 6 48 52 12 24 33
Flat 19 31 68 58 56
- 34 -
Lala varieties are traditionally planted on mounds in low lying places before
the start of the main rains. Hybrids planted on ridges predominate during
November. Flat planting of hybrids takes over from ridging in December when the
competition from finger millet establishment is highest. There is some resurgence
of ridged and mounded planting in January (44%). Spacing and the method of
planting are very close to recommended practice for the majority of plantings.
(73%). The proper plant population is often a difficult extension point, espe-
cially where maize is an established crop in the system, and particularly here
where the relatively labour intensive planting and fertilizer requirements fall
during the limiting labour peak. It seems the Lala have seen Namboard maize as
a new crop and absorbed the associated management as far as is compatible with
their resource endowments. When hybrid began to be adopted in the early 1970's
the November/January period was not so critical, the shift from Chitemene not
(3) Improving on present practice. Research effort on methods of land prepara-
tion could improve maize productivity both directly and indirectly. 39% of
farmers acknowledged water logging of the maize seeds as a problem, and a larger
proportion recognized it as serious in finger millet. Ridging probably reduces
this hazard in maize and the compatability of Serenje soils with tractor and ox
ridging is a possible area of investigation. Indirectly, the comparison of
sequences of land preparation and weeding which reduce labour requirements in
the November/January period; the pattern of the work started by Vernon and Parker
from Mount Makulu, is very relevant to Serenje farmers' circumstances. Important
aspects of such work would be the labour profile, that is the intensity and timing
of labour use, and the capital use of the different treatments.
7.3. Maize varieties and times of planting
(1) Present practice. As we have already recorded in Section 6.2. there has
been massive acceptance of Namboard varieties by Serenje farmers; 92% farmers
have tried them and 88% of survey farmers reported buying Namboard seed for the
1977/78 plantings. 72% of plantings were made with Namboard seed, 28% with
traditional Lala varieties.
72% of farmers responded that Namboard varieties made the best bwali. In the
course of the presurvey farmers complained that the Namboard varieties were more
vulnerable to drought and storage pests than the traditional varieties. Farmers
were asked their opinions on the advantages of traditional varieties. Factors
mentioned were; Tastes better green (30%), weighs heavier (25%). Ripens quicker
(7%) stores better (5%) 18% of farmers felt traditional varieties had no
advantages and 10% had.no opinion.
As table 11 shows 14% of maize plantings are made before November, 24% early
November; 20% late November, 21% early December, 14% late December and 8% in
January. There is a variety/time planting interaction which is summarised in
Table 21. below:
Table 21. Varieties and times of planting (% plantings)
Period % of Before Early Late Early Late January
Total Nov. Nov. Nov Dec Dec
-------------- % of varieties ------------
Lala 28 39 24 12 12 9 3
Namboard 72 3 23 23 25 17 9
- 35 -
The traditional Lala varieties are mainly planted early, 88% of the hybrid
plantings are made between the beginning of November and the end of December.
(2) Reasons for present practice
Early planting of the Lala varieties is a traditional practice which persists
because families need early food before the new harvests come available. The
Lala varieties are preferred for eating green, and, while Namulenga is about
the same maturity as the hybrids, Tunserika (115-120) days and Tunjere (90 days)
were reported as short term varieties in the pre-survey. On the otherhand the
hybrids from Namboard have clearly become a major crop with farmers. Their
dual purpose nature, for food and cash, has helped fill a widening vacuum with
the demise of Chiteme. Because both SR52 and ZH1 take about 170 days to maturity
farmers feel a pressure to have them established as early as possible. As table
12 demonstrates maize takes priority over all other crops for land preparation
and establishment after the start of the rains in November. In mid December a
major clash arises between the traditional establishment of finger millet at
this time and the continuing establishment of maize. With the critical labour
peak at this time and the uncertainty of the 170 day hybrids producing as the
rains end in March, maize cultivation tails off in January.
(3) Improving on present varieties and time of planting
This is potentially a very fruitful area for adaptive experimentation. Work to
reduce the labour requirements falling into the November/January period will
have two possible effects; to allow an expansion of the cultivated area, and
to improve the post planting management of crop acreages already grown. In
the case of farmers using predominantly family labour,extra acreage, albeit
the yield is low, is extra income. Because of their labour and capital limi-
tations over this period farmers will go on planting maize until the time they
perceive that their labour would be more productively employed weeding past
As has been highlighted in section 4.8. late planting of the hybrids is a
compromise in management forced on the Lala by the high labour requirements
of the system over the November-January period. As was pointed out there 43%
of all maize plantings are made with expectations of 140 days of moisture or
less. Because the Lala varieties are mainly the early plantings as shown in
Table 19, over 50% of the hybrid plantings fall into this category and 26% of
hybrid plantings have expectations of 125 days or less. As finger millet loses
its traditional importance maize plantings in late December and early January
are likely to increase giving a higher proportion of total plantings with
expectations of 125 days of moisture or less.
There is an overwhelming case for establishing the relationships between
variety length, time of planting and yield to find the cross over points in the
yielding ability of available selections. The Lala are used to handling a
variety of crops and a range of crop varieties, there is no obvious barrier
to asking them to manage two varieties of improved maize, one a shorter
maturing variety complementary to the present hybrids. Such a variety, planted
in late December and early January would be an appropriate adaptation to the
labour supply problems of Serenje farmers. At the same time it could give
more productive early plantings to obtain early new food, a practice in common
use throughout the area. Serenje farmers were asked if a hybrid type which
produced in four months would be useful to them, 96% answered that it would.
63% of farmers mentioned the advantage of early food.
- 36 -
(1) Present practice
Present weeding practice on maize has been mentioned in discussing management
compromises in Section 4.8. Although 47% of farmers made maize plantings which
received two or more weedings only 33% of plantings received such intensive
weeding. 67% of plantings received none or one weeding and 77% of farmers
had such plantings. The breakdown of weeding on maize plantings is: 12% no
weeding, 55% 1 weeding, 29% 2 weedings and 4% 3 weedings. Maize was an average
62 cm high at the time of first weeding. The table shows the breakdown of
height of first weeding distinguishing between plantings weeded once and those
Table 22. Height of first weeding on maize plantings
Height of 1st weeding 30 cms. 31-50 cms 51-70 cms over
or less 70 cms
----------% of weeded plantings -------------
2 or more weedings 9.5 10.6 4.6 8.3
1 weeding 6.1 9.9 16.5 22.5
Plantings weeded twice tended to be earlier weeded, 61% were weeded before
the maize was 50 cms high. Plantings weeded once were weeded very late; 71%
when the maize was over 50 cms high and 41% when it was over 70 cms high.
Maize plantings in late November, just before the onset of Finger Millet plant-
ing showed a particular tendency to be first weeded very late. Similarily
plantings on flat seedbeds, particularly those prepared by ox owners, were on
average later weeded than other plantings.
(2) Reasons for present practice
The compromises in management required by the labour bottleneck in the November-
January period explain present weeding practice. The farmer has to choose
between increasing his planted area and weeding his earlier plantings. His
present priorities are to continue establishment which he sees giving a better
economic return than using that labour on earlier weeding of his already estab-
lished maize. It should be added that weeding was not a dominant activity in
the traditional Lala system. The heat of the fire in Chiteme cultivation supp-
ressed weeds by killing of the seeds and mounding in the traditional subsidiary
gardens gives excellent weed control, Faster land preparation techniques, special
lly flat planting, gives much poorer weed control. The labour saved in prepara-
tion has to be expended later in weed control, but the combination does aid the
spreading of requirements. A prolonged weeding effort is new to the Lala, and on
area of change in the fast evolving system.
(3) The possibilities for improving on present weeding practice
Major changes in weeding management could result as finger millet declines
further. Labour released from finger millet preparation and planting could be
used for weeding. The key to present weeding management is thb. timing of the
first weeding. If this is early enough a second weeding, falling as it does
in a less busy period, is likely to be done. Experimental work should establish
the optimal time for first weeding, particularly of the November planted long
term hybrids, with and without a second weeding. An alternative approach
to weed control, which may be particularly attractive to the Lala would bring
wide benefits to their evolving farming system, is the use of fast maturing,
shade tolerant beans as an intercrop. Work elsewhere has shown that
legumes can be intercropped at little loss to the main crop, and
- 37 -
with significant increase in overall productivity. Weeding labour requirements
for the intercrop will be lower than those of pure stand maize due to the
shading effect of the rapidly emerging beans. Some modification of maize
spacing, towards a check row pattern, may be desirable to allow better pene-
tration of light to the beans. Usually there are strong interactions between
weeding and the response to fertilizer. With the low intensity weed manage-
ment in Lala maize growing it will be an important area for adaptive research
and is discussed more fully in the next section covering fertilisers.
7.5. Fertiliser use
Virtually all the Serenje farmer population were using fertilisers; 97% had
tried them and 95% used basal in 1978, 93% top dressing. The average spent
per farm on fertilisers for maize was Kw 55; About 8 bags. The average area
of maize grown was just under 1.5 ha. Levels of fertilizer application varied
and details are given in Table 23.
Levels of application of basal and top dressings
A distinction is drawn in the table between
2 acres. Two points are noteworthy.
plantings of 2 acres or less and over
(a) Heavy applications were concentrated on small plantings.
(b) A high proportion of small plantings received no fertilizer.
Point (a) is related to capital limitations and the use of capital either to
extend the area cultivated or to intensify management on the smaller area.
Point (b) concerns the Lala varieties, which were generally small plantings,
not usually receiving fertilizer.
-----------------Bags applied per acre-----------
Type Planting one or over 1 over 2 over
category None less to 2 to 3 3 bags
-------------- % of plantings receiving-----------
All 20 26 32 7 15
Basal 2 acres 26 7 15
16 10 26 7 15
More than 4 16 6 0 0
All 26 20 36 5 13
Top 2 acres 22 5 32 5 12
dressing or less
More than 4 15 4 01
- 38 -
The question of which of the alternatives, intensification or extension of
area,to pursue is interesting and rough comparative data is set out in Table 24.
The table is wholly based on information reported by farmers. Maize sales do
not include maize retained for subsistence, be however it is realistic to assume
that all families retained enough for estimated consumption needs so the table
remains a useful if rough indicator of relative performance.
Table 24. A comparison of reported performance between intensive fertilizer
use and large acreages
Maize under 1.5 to 3.1 to over
acreage 1.5 acres 3.0 acres 4.5 acres 4.5 acres
Number of farmers 9 22 17 16
Average area of
Average area of 1.03 2.34 3.60 8.60
107 122 169 216
maize sold (Kw)
Average spent on 43 49 54 94
41.3 20.9 14.6 11.0
cost p.ac. (Kw)
Average maize income
64 73 115 122
net of fert.cost(Kw)
Farmers interviewed all understood the method of fertilizer application and
claimed to use it as recommended. However the average timing of top dressing,
as reported in Section 4.8. was when the maize was at 75 cms. Timing was
reported for 82 plantings receiving top dressings and the percentage breakdown
shows only 7% of plantings top dressed at 30 cms or less and 56% of plantings
top dressed at over 70 cms.
(2) Reasons for present practice
The high proportion of Serenje farmers using fertilizer on their hybrid
maize plantings probably owes much to the fact that extension demonstrated it
as a new crop requiring fertiliser. However it also indicates that farmers
see a clear benefit from using it on the rapidly degraded soils of the area.
At present maize is rarely grown on newly cleared land, it almost always
follows finger millet, itself a heavy feeder, and soil fertility rapidly dege-
nerates. While about half the plantings received about 2 bags of each ferti-
liser, these were the smaller plantings, two-thirds of the maize acreage
received one bag or less each of basal and top dressing. Low levels of
application on the larger plantings reflect the limitations of capital availa-
bility and the competition from extensive uses of capital. In an area of unli-
mited land resources (from the farmers' point of view) economics probably
favour extra acreage, and to some extent this is born out by Table 24. The
fact that farmers' can obtain their fertilizer on credit against future maize
sales probably encourages higher levels of usage than would otherwise be the
- 39 -
The application of top-dressing at an average of 75 cms is clearly closely
related to the timing of the first weeding and, in turn, to the labour bottle-
neck in November/January. There is some evidence that farmers make more effort
to weed fertilised plantings:
(a) No basal application Z4% of plots weeded before 50 cms, with basal
(b) Top dressed plantings 37% received 2 or more weedings compared to
24% of those with no top dressing.
This may be due to the effect of fertilizer on the weeds, prompting farmers to
apply their labour more intensively.
(3) The possibilities for improving on present practice
Given relatively high average levels of expenditure on fertilizer by Serenje
farmers, given low levels of weeding unlikely to be increased in the short-term.
Knowing the high level of interaction between fertilizer application and
weeding; it seems important to check on fertilizer response under the weeding
regimes being employed by Serenje farmers. The effect of late weeding on the
response to the basal dressing and the effect of the late application of the
top dressing should be assessed in experiments aimed at establishing economic
levels of application under achievable weeding management. It will also be
valuable to bring fertilizer into maize/bean interplanting experimentation if
the bean intercrop is effective in minimising weeding labour requirements.
With the abundance of land in the area bush fallow offers a basic rotational
technique capable of carrying significantly heavier population densities than
Chitemene. As finger millet declines maize will increasingly be grown on land
newly cleared and artificial could be used to complement the benefits of bush
fallow. Longer term work should establish fertilizer requirements, at levels
achievable by small farmers, for 1st 2nd 3rd 4th and 5th year out of fallow
7.6. Storage and field pests
(1) Present practice. Little information on traditional storage methods
in the study area was collected in the course of the survey. It is brought
in here because poor storing qualities of the hybrids was raised as an issue
by farmers during the field work. Tropical Products Institute Publication
G109 (Adams) has considerable detail on storage in traditional farming in
Zambia, including Serenje. In the course of the pre-survey extensive damage
from stalk borer was seen in the field and extensively weevilled cobs were
observed in the grain stores. As described in section 5.2. only 23% of plantings
were dusted against stalk borer, most of them (+70%) at a height of 100-125 cms.
18% of surveyed farmers reported buying insecticide for stalk borer in 1978.
Only 13% of farmers reported using insecticide in their maize stores. A number
of farmers in the pre-survey reported storing hybrid maize shelled in sacks, this
was not followed up in the survey.
(2) Reasons for present practice. The cost of insecticide treatment for both
stalk-borer and stored maize is low compared to amount being spent by Serenje
farmers on other purchased inputs, it makes the low level of usage difficult
to explain. The extension effort on insect control was not assessed but given
the high levels of damage observed the conclusion must be that either farmers
are not informed or not convinced of the value of treatment. The late applica-
tion of insecticide for stalk-borer by the majority of farmers using it must be
partly due to the labour scarcity between November and January.
- 40 -
The use of 1 malathion dust in stored maize is most effective if the maize is
shelled to allow penetration. Serenje farmers traditionally store on the cob
and this is known to give poor results when insecticide is used. It is also
known that the rise in moisture content with the onset of rains breaks down the
insecticide. Sealed stores are recommended to hold down the moisture content
and keep the insecticide viable, it is not known how far Serenje farmers tradi-
tional stores are effectively sealed.
(3) Possibilities for improving present practice. Field and storage losses
from insect attack on aaize appear to be significant in Serenje. Local veri-
fication trials to test:
(a) the efficacyof insecticide use in the field against stalk-borer, with
special attention to the time of application.
(b) che compatibility of present storage practice and the use of insecti-
cide in the stored maize.
These seem to be a pre-requisite to focus extension effort on an area where
Serenje farr.ers recognize a problem and where a comparatively cheap solution
within the cash resources of local farmers may exist.
7.7. Summary: Longterm research focii
Research proposals can be grouped at two levels: First; longer term work
designed to relax system constraints and almost certainly relevent to large
numbers of traditional farmers in Zambia. Second; Immediate priorities for
increased maize production on the majority of farms in the Serenje zone. This
section summarises the longer term work which itself has'two major components.
(1) Land preparation, planting and weeding sequences
Parker and Vernon (1978) have initiated a programme of work to test sequences
of land preparation, planting and weeding to try to alleviate problems faced
by small farmers in timely planting and weeding. This kind of programme is
certainly relevant to large numbers of traditional farmers in Zambia and
elsewhere faced with a labour shortage early in the new season which prevents
timely planting and leads to low levels of weed control. Parker and Vernon's
programme concentrates on testing components of solutions useful for farmers
with oxen. The programme would have wider relevance, including relevance to
most Serenje farmers, if it were extended to cover components of solutions
useful for farmers cultivating with hoes. Variables featuring in the programme
are methods and timing of land preparation, planting and weed control. In the
1978/79 season the programme will incorporate the possibility of winter land
preparation in March, April and May, an alternative very relevant to farmers
of the study area.
One problem with such winter cultivation, also true for Serenje farmers, is
that the current seasons hybrid maize plantings remain in the ground until
June and July by when the ground has dried out and is too hard to dig. Thus,
to take advantage of winter preparation land has to lie fallow in the current
season. An early planted short term maize variety could release land in time
for April digging, though the crop would probably have to be taken off the
field for drying. Alternatively rotation with a short term crop such as beans
would give the same possibility. Potentially benefits will arise from an overall
expansion of the system due to a relaxing of the labour constraint over the
early part cf the season. This source of benefits may be significant enough to
outweigh lover yields of maize realized in some of the treatment alternatives.
It will therefore be important to record the amount and timing of capital and
labour required by alternative sequences as well as the yield levels realized.
- 41 -
(2) Bush fallowing as a system of fertility maintenance
Whereas the carrying capacity of the Chitemene system is limited by the rate of
forest regeneration to give wood for the burn, in a bush fallow the limitation
is the rate of soil degradation of the fallow when put under cultivation, carry-
ing capacity is much higher. It seems likely that the use of artificial can
be balanced with the fertility accumulated during the fallow to optimise the use
of cash spent on fertilisers over the period in cultivation. It is an attractive
possibility nationally in that the importation of artificial fertilisers absorbs
scarce foreign exchange, whereas bush fallowing, if worked as a rotation, uses
only local natural resources. It is also attractive to the traditional farmer
who is short of cash resources and at certain slack times of the year can
provide labour for stumping, a labour intensive prerequisite to tapping the
fertility of the bush fallow. The period of cultivation of the cleared land
can be extended by laying out available cash to supplement natural fertility
with chemical fertilisers. As incomes improve higher levels of cash can be
expected to be available for artificial to a point when these can sustain
fertility and permanent farming can be practised. For Serenje farmers at least,
assuming cultivation of the cleared land for five years and a capital limitation
of Kw 50-60 on fertilizer purchases, the work should seek to show the best allo-
cation of purchases over say 3.0 hectares divided equally into 1st 2nd 3rd 4th
and 5th year land. More basic work should aim to show how land can be used
longer once the farmer has higher levels of cash available for fertilizer
purchase. The -irt will not attempt tc detail these longer term progran,:e-
7 8 Summary "r ,e ate priorities
In an adaptive experimental programme on maize for the Serenje study area thc
imm diate priority is to find improved growing practices which are compatible
with the management compromises local farmers are obliged to make because of
their circumstances. The report has identified areas of work in the earlier
sections of chapter 7, these are summarised here.
(1) Variety and planting time It is easy to get the wrong impression of
farmers reactions to the clear demonstration of an 'optimal' planting time for
maize. Though farmers may be convinced yields are best when the crop is planted
at the optimal time, as we have noted above they will continue planting until
the value of the production from new increments of area just covers the costs of
its establishment. In the case of Serenje farmers such 'costs' are the losses
in production from failing to weed earlier plantings. Farmers are going to
continue to plant later than the technically optimal planting time because they
are following economic rather than technical criteria. Accepting this, and
accepting that in Serenje 50% of the 170 day hybrids are planted with only 140
days moisture remaining and 26% with only 125 days moisture remaining, there
is a strong case for a variety better fitted to these periods of moisture
availability. The work involved would be to plot the yield cross over points
of the present hybrids SR52 and ZH1 and available shorter term selections under
increasing delays in planting. A priori as the available moisture period
becomes shorter the normal time of planting effect will be reinforced by a
scarcity of moisture for filling the grain and the effect will be more serious
for the longer term varieties. For fair comparison such work would require
some preliminary considerations. :..
(a) Shorter term varieties are usually smaller, less vegetative plants
(i) Optimal densities are higher. Each variety should be grown
at or about its own optimum density in seeking yield cross
over points due to later planting.
- 42 -
(ii) With smaller plants lower levels of fertilizer use are likely
to be optimal, this gives a cost advantage which should be
considered in the comparison. (Although with increased density
this advantage may disappear)
(b) With later plantings, due to the time of planting effect, although
the fertilizer response curve is likely to remain the same shape
the level will be lower, smaller applications of fertilizer are
likely to be economically optimal for all varieties at later planting
It is highly likely that this type of situation exists throughout smallholder
agriculture, and indeed commercial farming in Zambia. The work is likely to
be widely relevant, though in the case of commercial farmers it is machinery
rather than labour requirements they are seeking to spread.
(2) Weeding and fertilizer use. Of major concern in the area is the weeding
management on the long term hybrids, and particularly the effect of low levels
of weeding on fertilizer responses. Major changes in weeding management are
likely to depend on the further decline of finger millet. Perhaps a focus of
extension effort on weeding will hasten its decline but in the short term
recommendations must be achievable within the resource endowments of Serenje
farmers. The key seems to be the timing of first weeding. If this is done
early, a second weeding, out of the peak November to January labour period,
poses less of a problem. The timing of the first weeding is also a major
factor in both the effectiveness of the basal dressing and the timing of the
top dressing. Factorial experiments should evaluate the economics of fertilizer
responses ranging across present and recommended levels of both fertilizer
management and weed control.
Sec 6.6 notes beans, a crop already grown in the system, as a possibility for
development as a second cash crop. Extensive research on maize/bean intercrops
in both Tanzania and Kenya has shown that beans can be intercropped into maize
with little or no loss of maize yield and with overall productivity of the
intercrop often 50% higher than monoculture. The use of a shade tolerant fast
maturing bean variety also serves as a weed suppressant and reduces weeding
labour requirements. In seeking high productivity from maize/bean intercrops
relative time of planting of the two crops, bean density and the spacing arrange-
ments for the combination are important experimental variables. A priori
beans are likely to do better mixed with maize varieties with less vegetative
growth, minimising the shading of the interplanted beans. Subsistence families
normally only require legumes 30% weight for weight of the starches consumed,
thus the marketability of beans is a vital consideration if mixed cropping on
any scale is to be recommended for the area.
(3) Maize pests. The efficacy of using insecticide to control stalk borer
in the field should be checked in the study area. Similarily the compatability
of traditional methods of maize storage and the viable use of insecticide in
those stores should be checked locally. Further investigation looking for
farmer modifications to traditional storage methods in view of the apparent
vulnerability of hybrids to storage pests could form the basis for a programme
to guide such changes along sound lines.
- 43 -
8. A MAIZE EXERIIENTAL PROGRARME FOR FARMERS IN THE ZONE
Sources of benefit to Serenje farmers that experimental programme seeks to
exploit are two:
(1) Improved reliability in maize production and storage
(a) Improved storage
(b) Selection of a productive shorter term variety which
(i) Stores as well or better than traditional maize varieties
(ii) Is a more production source of early food in the new
(iii) Is less vulnerable than present full term hybrids to the
end of the rains when late planted.
(c) Control of stalk borer.
(2) Varieties and practices which are compatible with the management
compromises Serenje farmers are forced to make with their limited
(a) Selection of a productive short term variety
(i) Does relatively well with late planting.
(ii) Has economic optimal fertilizer application rates which
are closer to farmers available cash for spending on
(b) Compatability between fertilizer levels recommended for ZH1 and
SR52 and low levels of weeding management achieved by farmers.
The experimental programme is seeking improvements in productivity from changes
in management which Serenje farmers can achieve. Present farmer practice will
be a baseline against which responses to changes will be measured. Thus
control or check plots will, in most experiments, be present farmer practice.
Practices which it is considered farmers are willing and able co change make up
the experimental variables in the work. Treatment levels on these variables
will be bounded by the range felt to be feasible for Serenje farmers. Practices
which it is considered farmers cannot or do not need to change will be held at
present levels in the experimental work. The local specificity of the programme
requires that much of the work be conducted in the study area. It is recomme-
nded that a farmer panel from the area be recruited to help with management of
those trials which are recommended for farmers fields.
The farmer panel would:
(a) Advise on farmer practice for non-experimental variables.
(b) Discuss the compatability of treatment and treatment levels with
farmers' existing management.
(c) Be responsible for the experimental site and the supply of labour
for work as required.
- 44 -
In describing the experiment a good deal of reference will be made to farmer
management, which will be used for the non-experimental variables. Experimental
variables will always be specified as treatments. To avoid repetition Farmer
management is taken as:
i Ridged or Flat seedbed, to be specified
ii Flexible date of planting, October to Jnuary, to be specified.
iii Spacing, in rows 90 cms x 30 cms.
iv One weeding at 60 cms height
v One bag each of basal and top dressing and the top dressing applied
with the crop at 75 cms.
8.2. Variety Selection
(1). For early food
a) Objectives: To improve the productivity of maize planted to give
early food in the new year, if possible improving on the palatability
of the traditional Lala varieties.
b) Selection criteria; Yield, 120 140 day maturity and low suscep-
tibility to cob rots and insect damage in the field, dense cobs (high
c) Selection approach; A variety trial comparing shorter term sele-
ctions with ZH1 or SR52 and the local varieties Namulenga and Tunserika
when planted in October. If adequate seed is available cookability and
palatability screening should precede variety trials to exclude unaccept-
able selections. If seed is scarce grain from these first trials should
be used for these trials.
d) Management; On farmers' fields testing for variety yield differentials
under farmers' management. October planting on ridges in low lying loca-
tions on dambo margins. No fertilizer. Harvested after blacklayer
e) Records; Yield, insect damage in the field, cob rots and days to
black layer formation.
(2) Late main plantings
a) Objectives: To select a shorter term maize variety with the ability
to be planted as late as mid January and minimise yield losses due to
grain filling occurring after the end of the rains. It should be a
better storer and equally as palatable as ZH1 and SR52.
b) Criteria. Yield under late planting, storeability (hard and
low level of transfer of insects from the field).
c) Selection approach: 120 140 day selections grown as a variety
trial with ZH1 or SR52 as a control. At three times of planting 25 December.
5 January and 15 January to establish yield cross over points.
d) Management: On station under farmers' management on f4 at seedbed.
Density at the recommended 44,000 pph for ZH1 or SR52 and 't 55,000 pph for
the shorter term selections. The higher spacing should be obtained by
increasing to two plants per stand and increasing the interstand distance
to 40 cms.
e) Records: Yield, insect damage in the field, cob rots,days to black
layer formation, insect infestation of field dried cobs, stand counts
at harvest, average cobs per plant.
- 45 -
The objectives of the adaptive programme in agronomy in Year .1. will be:
First; to begin to specify differences in management for full term and shorter
term hybrids within the roles seen for them in the Serenje farming system.
Second; to begin to adapt management practices for the full term hybrids where
present recommendations are incompatible with farmer practice. Four experiments
(1) Variety/density trial
(a) Objectives; to begin to specify density differentials for full and
shorter term varieties when planted later than optimal.
(b) Experimental approach ZH1 or SR52 and the expected best 120-140
day selections grown at a range of densities, including 44,000 pph
and 55,000 pph as the densities included in the main variety trial.
(c) Management on station with farmers' management,planted flat about
25 December. Increase density by increasing plants per stand and
large interrow spaces where possible.
(d) Records: Yield, insect infestation in the field, cob rots, lodged
plants, stand count at harvest, average cobs per plant.
(2) Variety/fertiliser trial
(a) Objectives To begin to establish differential in economic rates of
fertilizer application between full and shorter term varieties. Use
results to test optimal way to use Kw 50-60 on fertilizer in terms
of low levels over a large area or higher levels on a small area.
(b) Experimental approach ZH1 or SR52 and the best 120-140 day selections
grown under a range of fertilizer levels, including present recomme-
ndations and present farmer practice as two treatments.
(c) Management. On station with Farmers' management; flat planted
about 25 December.
(d) Records. Yield, lodged plants, cob rots, average cobes per plant.
(3) Fertiliser/weeding trial
(a) Objective To evaluate the interaction between weeding and fertilizer
applications on the full term hybrids to begin to specify economically
optimum fertilizer levels under weeding regimes which can be achieved
by Serenje farmers.
(b) Experimental approach ZH1 or SR52 grown under a range of fertilizer
levels and weeding regimes. Fertiliser treatments should include
present farmer levels and recommended levels. Weeding treatments
should include present farmer practice and focus on variation in the
time of first weeding. Top dressing will always follow first weeding.
(c) Management. On farmers fields, farmers management flat planted about
(d) Records: Yields, level of weed infestation prior to weedings on all
treatments whether being weeded or not, labour use.
- 46 -
(4) Maize and bean intercropping trial
(a) Objectives (i) To compare the productivity in cash terms of maize
grown in pure stands and when mixed with beans.
(ii) To begin to assess the value of beans as a weed
suppressant which is also a productive crop.
(b) Experimental approach. Take the expected best shorter term se] on
and compare it planted in pure stands and when intercropped wit
bean variety suitable to the area with rapid early growth.
(c) Management. On station with all plots under farmer management except
as described. Two planting times. October in a low lying location
near dambo margin, on ridges and with no fertilizer. About 25 Decembe
flat planted. Spacing should maintain the maize population but
double the interplant distance by doubling plants per stand. Bean
population should be about 90,000 pph with 4 plants staggered within
the maize row between two maize stands 50 cm apart.
(d) Records. Yield translated into cash earnings, level of weed
infestation in treatment whether being weeded or not, labour use on
weeding and harvesting.
(5) Subsequent agronomy work. If good shorter season selections can be
confirmed in the first or second year, three more specific experiments can be
(a) Variety x Time of planting x fertilizer levels to plot economic
levels of fertilizer application at later planting times. Two
(i) full term hybrid ZH1 or SR52 planted at 10th 20th 30th December.
(ii) Shorter term selection planted at 25th December, 5th and 15th
Relevant fertilizer levels should be indicated by Experiment (2) outlined
(b) Plant population and fertilizer levels. to plot the interaction
between density and fertilizer level, looking for the economic optimum
application for the short-term selection. Results from experiment (2)
should give guidance on treatments.
(c) Intercropping trials to develop a management system for beans mixed
with the short-term selection. Relative time of planting, bean density
and stand pattern will be important variables.
8.4. Maize pests
Limited work is possible until the best shorter term selection has been made.
In the first year the agronomy programme should examine the resnonses to stalk
borer control in farmers fields, with particular reference to the timing of
application. Once a shorter-term variety is selected it should be entered with
ZH1 or SR52, and local varieties in a storage trial. The trial should be
designed to establish the response to each component of improved storage
practice with a view to basing a storage extension effort on components which
- 47 -
are relatively compatible with Serenje farmers traditional farming practice.
Four alternatives should be examined with traditional practice as a control
and Lala, fullterm and shorter term varieties involved.
(i) store cleaned before new crop is put in.
(ii) store cleaned and insecticide on cobs in traditional sealed store.
(iii) store cleaned and insecticide on shelled maize in traditional sealed
(iv) insecticide on shelled maize kept in sacks.
This work should be preceded during year .1. by local observation to identify
traditional practice more carefully and to document measures farmers have adopted
to counter the poor storage characteristics of the full term hybrids. Observation
will improve the relevancy of treatment details in the final design of a storage
This then is the outline of an adaptive experimental programme for maize for
farmers in the study area of Serenje District. It is planned to show up
productivity improvements from new management practices diagnosed as appropriate
to the circumstances of the mass of farmers in the area.
- 48 -
9. SOME COMMENTS ON THE DEMONSTRATION
9.1. The team approach
The approach being promoted by Cimmyt's EAEP is implemented by an interdiscipli-
nary team of biological and social scientists who bring their particular exper-
tise to bear on a defined farming situation. For this first Zambian demonstra-
tion cooperators were drawn together on a very adhoc basis from the Rural
Development Studies Bureau, Mount Makulu Research Station and the Ministry of
Lands and Agriculture. Due to personnel changes, existing programme commitments,
physical separation of the institutions concerned and resource limitation it
was not possible to create the integrated team envisaged for implementing the *
approach in mounting the demonstration. A team operating as a unit at a
research centre and interacting on a day by day basis could expect to.achieve
closer insight into the situation of the small farmer, and could implement the
sequence of procedures much more rapidly. The final draft report was completed
in early November, eight months after the pre-survey visit. A team operating
from a research centre could expect to halve this time.
9.2. Fieldwork problems
(1) Transport presented a major problem in carrying out the fieldwork, it had
to be borrowed or hired from several sources and was in some cases not suitable
for the distances and terrain which had to be covered.
(2). Problems with the original Staff Development Fellow,recruited to provide
a Zambian input on the farm economics side, led to the need to fill the post
with a business economist. Mr. Bbenkele did an excellent job supervising the
field work, and showed conscientious application throughout. He had no agri-
cultural background or training which inevitably penalised his professional
contribution and it is to his credit that the demonstration has turned out well.
(3) In enumerator recruitment, whereas it is accepted practice to train more
than required to allow for drop outs, due to a misunderstanding the exact
number required were selected for training. Two of the recruits proved less
than satisfactory in carrying out farmer interviews.
9.3. Data processing and analysis
Arrangements to process the collected data at the University of Zambia
Computer Centre broke down and punched card copies had to be forwarded to
Nairobi for processing. The print outs were returned to Zambia for analysis
and interpretation. This lost 6 weeks of time, lengthening the period required
for the study.
Mr. Bbenkele left for further studies in the USA in late August, about one
month earlier than anticipated. The draft report had to be completed by Cimmyt
in liaison with the crop scientists at Mount Makulu.
Despite problems arising in the implementation of the demonstration the field-
work allowed an understanding of the present farming system operated by the
Lala in the study area. This understanding enabled the plannigg'of an adaptive
experimental programme for maize, the major crop in the system. The time
taken to obtain results would probably be halved given an interdisciplinary
team working on an area oriented basis say from Kabwe Research Station.
- 49 -
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS. Cimmyt would like to acknowledge the interest and encourage-
ment in demonstrating this approach to adaptive research planning of Mr. Mufwaya,
Mr. Mumba and Mr. Mkutu all of headquarters, Ministry of Lands and Agriculture,
of Miss Chungu, Chief Research Officer, Mount Makulu Research Station and of
Professor D.H. Evans, Director, Rural Development Studies Bureau of the Univer-
sity of Zambia. Thanks are due to Mr. Stuart Kean, Planning Division, Ministry
of Lands and Agriculture for his effective work as Liaison Officer of the
Steering Committee chaired by Mr. Mkutu.
D.U. Peters. 1950 Rhodes-Livingstone papers No. 19: Land usage in Serenje
W. Allan. 1969 (2nd Ed.) Rhodes-Livingstone papers No.15: Studies in African
Land usage in Northern Rhodesia.
J.M.H. Parker and R. Vernon 1978: An investigation into small scale farming
improvements. (Mt. Makulu Research Station).
G. Adams 1974 Tropical Products Institute Publication No.G.109
Traditional storage of Cereals in Zambia.
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