ADOPTION OF ‘PUSH-PULL’ BIOLOGICAL CONTROL OF STRIGA (STRIGA HERMONTHICA) WEEDS, AMONG SMALLHOLDER MAIZE FARMERS IN HOMA BAY, KENYA
Maize is the most important staple food for 96 percent of Kenya’s population. However, maize productivity in Kenya is low averaging 1800kg/ha compared to a yield potential of over 6000kg/ha. Weed management has been attributed as one of the key factors affecting Maize yields. Among the weeds, striga (Striga hermonthica) is perhaps the most critical due to its ability to retard maize growth by competing for its nutrients with farmers reporting yield losses of up to 80 percent in infested fields. In recent times, the ‘push-pull’ biological method of striga weed control has been developed. The innovation controls striga and stem borers by using repellent (push) and traps (pull) plants. Although there is evidence showing that this method is effective and environmentally friendly, few farmers have adopted it in striga infested areas of Homa Bay, in Kenya. This article assesses factors that influence farmers’ choice towards adoption of this push-pull innovation. A random sample of 96 smallholder farmers from Mbita and Homa Bay sub-counties were interviewed. Data analysis involved descriptive statistics, and probit regression model. Results show that the probability of adopting push-pull biological control increases with access to extension services (p<0.01); household size (p<0.05); returns from maize but decreases with limited access to markets (p<0.05). The findings suggest that addressing labour sourcing arrangements, enhancing the profitability of maize farming and putting in place the right institutional arrangements for extension and access to markets would enhance the adoption of the push-pull innovation.