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 Table of Contents

Title: Trip report : Kenya drylands cropping systems research project
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00081808/00001
 Material Information
Title: Trip report : Kenya drylands cropping systems research project
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Hildebrand, Peter E.
Publisher: Food and Resource Economics Dept., University of Florida,
Publication Date: July 2, 1981
Copyright Date: 1981
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Bibliographic ID: UF00081808
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 192019999

Table of Contents
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    Table of Contents
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Full Text



Peter E. Hildebrand

Food and Resource Economics Department
University of Florida
Gainesville, Florida 32611

July 2, 1981



Assessment of General Conditions (Problem Situation) 1

Current Activities 3

Conclusions and Recommendations 4

Itinerary 8



Peter E. Hildebrand

"The project focuses on agronomic problems restrict-
ing expanded food crop production in the semi-arid areas
of Kenya. Its specific objective is to develop, through
basic and applied research, an appropriate technological
package of agricultural recommendations for small holder
farmers in the semi-arid areas and assist in improving the
delivery system for implementing that technological package.
The package is to include recommended crop varieties and
cropping systems, optimal planting times and improved cul-
tural practices. When adopted, the package would increase
agricultural production and improve the well-being of the
areas' farmers."1/

This report is based on five days in Kenya -- an amount of time to see,

hear and absorb much but short enough so that it can create a false illusion

of understanding. Even though the time was programmed very efficiently, it

is not possible to grasp all that is required,to make a report of this nature

in so short a period. Hence, although some of the following is specific, it

should be received with a due amount of precaution. It is hoped that any

errors in fact or interpretation that do exist are not of sufficient magni-

tude to cause any major problems to the PASA team or any of the entities

with which it works or has contact.

Assessment of General Conditions (Problem Situation)

The marginal lands for which the team has responsibilities is character-

ized by a complex crop/livestock type of farming system. The livestock are

as important to the cropping system as the crops are to the livestock. Maize

is not considered only a grain crop but also as a source forage for the dry

season. For this reason, all maize planted is not necessarily viewed as the

-Drylands Cropping Systems Research Project, Summary Statement of Status and
Plans for 1980-81. October, 1980.

same crop by the farmer. Because of limited labor at planting time, maize

planting is spread over a long period of time. At planting time for the

short rains in October, there appears to be competition for labor with live-

stock. As planting progresses, weeding must be initiated, also competing

with additional planting. Hence, some maize is planted so late it appears

certain it will not produce grain. It appears that later planted maize is

seeded at lower populations than that planted during the initial rains. The

farmer probably considers the early planted maize as his best bet for grain

and his later planted maize as only forageT That planted at intermediate

times is probably considered as an insurance grain crop for unusual condi-

tions in which the early crop is lost, but also as a surer source of fodder

than the late planted maize. To complicate the matter, the maize field pro-

duces much more than maize products. Intercropping is common and includes

other food crops such as legumes (beans, pigeon peas and cowpeas), cucurbits

(squash or pumpkin), cassava, sorghum and others.

Although population pressures are rapidly increasing in the area, it

appears that planting and weeding labor are more constraining than land to

increasing total production in the area. This constraint is exacerbated by

government attempts to hold down the price of maize to consumers, thereby

reducing the incentive to farmers to produce beyond their own consumption


Little time was available to assess the infrastructure situation, but

it would appear that with the possible exception of the Machakos area where

the Machakos Integrated Development Project (MIDP) is active, availability

of inputs could restrict the expansion of maize production and that of other

crops, in the short run.

-/Although the masculine pronoun is used here to refer to the farmer, it is
recognized that most of the people who actually produce food crops are the

Current Activities

The majority of the team's efforts at the present time are related to

on-station work, but there are a few "target of opportunity" on-farm trials.

Except for the maize breeder, who is at Kitale, most of the work centers at

the Katumani station. Although there is some collaboration with the FAO

team, the degree of integration is not what was originally anticipated.

The Plant Pathologist, who transferred to the PASA team in March and

who is soon going on home-leave from his former position so has not initiated

a great deal of his own activity, seems to be the most active in collabora-

ting with the FAO group. He is working with FAO on resistance of pigeon peas

to fusarium wilt and has also identified charcoal rot as a potential problem

in common beans. He has obtained several potentially important alternative

crop species and will receive some perennial peanut materials from the Uni-

versity of Florida collection.

The Agronomist, who is concentrating on maize, but also doing some work

with intercropped species, has identified as maize constraints: 1) time of

planting, 2) population and fertility, and 3) weeds. At the Katumani Station

we saw the following trials: 1) Fertility (nitrogen and phosphorus), 2) crop

rotations with several crops, 3) maize/legume intercrops and 4) the use of

animal power. In addition, the Agronomist has initiated on-farm trials on

three farms. Although there is some similarity among these trials, they are

more a "target of opportunity" design than a common statistical design. Based

on station trials and previous work, the agronomist has made a series of

recommendations which he says fit in with the farmers' capabilities although

they do require a source of credit.

Among other work being conducted by the meteorologist is a very interest-

ing analysis which is designed to help predict the "quality of year" in time

for the farmer to make adjustments in planting dates, population, and ferti-

lizer application. The method used appears to be applicable on a practical


The Soil Scientist also has an active program and has spent much of his

time establishing the run-off plots on the Katumani Station. He is inter-

ested in the effects of weeding on erosion and may begin to incorporate this

in future efforts, especially studying the potential of the wick herbicide

applicator, both from this point-of-view and looking at its efficiency with

respect to labor.

Conclusions and Recommendations

In general, it appears that the team is meeting the goals set forth in

the work plan of October, 1980. One major exception is that the Agronomist

is not very active in the screening program due in part to the lack of appro-

priate facilities, and in part because FAO has initiated a soybean screening

and breeding activity. Because the Agricultural Economist is also Team Lead-

er, there is less than the desired technical input on his part, but it does

appear that he is also satisfying many of the goals of that position. The

team does feel the lack of a maize breeder in residence at Muguga, but this

is not to say that the breeder stationed at Kitale is not fulfilling his

goals -- he simply is not able to make much input into the efforts of the

team in the marginal lands component.

The team feels the need to find a way for some of its technology to be

tested on farms and to become incorporated into the farming systems of the

area. This also is part of the overall objective of the project which in-

cludes, "improving the delivery system for implementing that technological

package". There is a feeling that the present mechanism of passing the tech-

nology to FAO who will do "pre-extension" testing and then pass it to Exten-

sion will not be effective, I am in agreement with this concern. An

effective farming systems approach reduces rather than increases the number

of agencies between research and the farmer.

It there is to be any significant impact of the team's activities be-

fore it leaves the country, it will be necessary to change emphasis. With-

out terminating on-station activities, all team members will be required to

spend a considerable amount of their time in an on-farm testing program. Be-

cause on-farm tests are an important and critical part of technology evalua-

tion, the principal researchers cannot simply "pass-off" their findings to

others to test in the field. At the same time, it is not possible for the

principal researchers to do all that is necessary in the field -- they must

have competent help in establishing, maintaining, monitoring and harvesting

the on-farm trials in order to have usable information. If adequate staff-

ing is not available through KARI, another alternative would be to work

closely with the MIDP and concentrate only in their area. In fact, it would

probably be wise to concentrate only in the Machakos area at the present

time because of the logistical problems presented by trying to include the

Katuii area in a low budget, limited personnel project.

It has been found that with traditional crops, farmers are much more

prone to adopt simple changes in succession than a complex change all at

once. There are many reasons for this and the farmers' reasons must be re-

spected. Therefore, I recommend that the PASA team pool their current knowl-

edge of the area and their individual results into a very limited number of

simple changes which can be tested as different treatments in on-farm trials.

Each treatment should be considered as an alternative in itself, so that sev-

eral levels of each component are not included (for example, 3 fertilizer levels

or several planting rates). Four such treatments could be combined with two

"check" treatments to make a simple trial that can be replicated twice on each

farm if small plots are used or only once if plots large enough to obtain

economic information are used. The latter is to be preferred. Check treat-

ments should be: 1) a duplication of what each farmer is doing to serve

as a measure of the effect of the experiment, itself, on yields, and 2) a

common treatment representative of the area to use as a measure of the dif-

ferences year after year. The first check will be different, but similar on

each farm because all farmers tend to do some things slightly different from

their neighbors. The second check should be the same on all farms and from

year to year in order thatit provide a measure of annual variability.

In designing the treatments, the team should keep in mind that all the

maizea farmer raises is not the same. Furthermore, even though research

plots can be planted in only one day, a farmer's field may take several days

or even weeks to plant. Hence, it is important that the team decide exactly

which of the maize crops it is working with and understand what resources

the farmer has available for that particular crop. I would recommend that

as much time as possible be spent in the field with Peter Little, the Anthro-

pologist from the Institute of Development Studies, who indicates he would

have some time available for this activity. He would make a valuable contri-

bution to understanding the farmers' restrictions during specific periods of


To have an impact in the short time remaining to the team, a relatively

large number of trials should be established in the Machakos area, to provide

adequate research information and to begin the extension process, since the

trials can also be used in this activity. Ten trials would be an absolute

minimum if they are conducted under highly homogeneous conditions and for

one farming system. If responses are to be made for more than one condition,

at least ten trials should be conducted for each separate condition. At

each site (farm) it would also be extremely useful, if not critical, to col-

lect enterprise budget information from the farmer to use as a basis of

evaluating the results from the trial, as well as aid in designing future

trials. I recommend simple forms for gathering this information, such as

those designed in Guatemala, and that the person who is conducting the

trial at each farm be the one responsible for working with the farmer to

obtain the information. The Economist should be responsible for designing

the instrument to be used, and should try to visit each participant during

the course of the year, but it is not possible for one person to accomplish

the entire effort. Furthermore, it is advantageous for the people conduct-

ing the trial to become well acquainted with the farmers on whose land they

are working.

Finally, as the results come in, the team, together, should analyze them

and interpret them and come to one, common conclusion concerning recommenda-

tions to the farmers and for further testing. For those to be recommended to

farmers, there should be agreement on the procedure for conducting the "Farm-

ers Tests" and on how and what evaluations are to be made. At this stage,

the Extension Service can actively enter into the testing procedure by help-

ing to conduct some of the Farmers' Tests. This increases the number of farm-

ers who participate and helps make extension personnel familiar with the tech-

nology. In the following year after it has been determined that the technology

is acceptable to the farmers, it will be a much easier task for the Extension

Service to promote the technology.



Left Gainesville Friday June 12 at 1:10 pmo

Arrived Nairobi at 6:10 am on Sunday, June 14. Met by Peter Little,

an Anthropologist with the Institute of Development Studies and a PhoD.

candidate at the University of Indiana, and by Frank Fillo, a Ph.D. candi-

date in Agricultural Economics at the University of Florida and currently

with ILCA. Three hour meeting with Peter and Frank. Spent remainder of

the day resting. Dinner with Bill and Nancy Faught (PASA Project leader)

where we discussed the purpose of the trip and set a tentative itinerary.

Monday, June 15. Spent the day at Muguga Experiment Station and Head-

quarters of KARI in discussion with Hassan Nadar, Agronomist; lan Stewart,

Meteorologist; Ben Waite, Plant Pathologist and Bill Faught of the PASA team.

Dinner with the team members and their wives at Faught's home.

Tuesday, June 16. Field trip to Machakos and Kitui Districts to see

work in progress on the Katumani station and on several farms. Accompanied

by Faught, Waite, Stewart, Nadar and Bob Armstrong, Rural Development Officer

of USAID/Nairobi.

Wednesday, June 17, Muguga station talking with Larry Ulsaker, Soils and

Water Scientist; Leroy Peters, Maize breeder at Kitale and Faught. Arranged

to send some plant materials to Ben Waite; wick herbicide applicators to

Ulsaker and reports and information to the team in general and to Armstrong.

Thursday, June 18, Three hour seminar for members of the PASA team,

USAID, FAO, CIMMYT, The University of Nairobi and others on Farming Systems

Research and Extension. Seminar followed by a lunch at Muguga House. After-

noon session with PASA team to discuss my conclusions and recommendations.

Dinner at Armstrong's home,

Left Nairobi at midnight Thursday and arrived Gainesville at 6:25 pm Fri-

day, June 10.

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