Study in support of transfer, adoption and dissemination of labour saving technologies, Uganda

The study report was prepared for the Integrated Support to Sustainable Development and Food Security Programme (IP) in Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) by the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO), Uganda, 2002

Executive Summary

This study was conducted under the framework for FAO's Integrated Support to Sustainable Development and Food Security Programme (IP). Considering the overwhelming role of women in farm and household tasks, it is vital that strong gender considerations be given to the development and promotion of the above technologies with a view to effectively reduce the un-proportionate workload on women. This widely felt need is noted as urgently calling for redress by many research and development agencies. The project aimed at promoting promising farm power, crop processing and household energy-based technologies under development by AEATRI with a strong gender perspective. This approach is in line with the current policy of NARO of mainstreaming gender in all its activities. The selected technologies of forage processing and water conveyance were those likely to impact directly in the areas of women concerns.

Improved forage chopping, farm/household water lifting and smallscale irrigation technologies have been adapted and promoted for use under Uganda's conditions. Their uptake, dissemination and adoption is, however, not well understood. In addition knowledge on the appropriateness, relevance and effectiveness of such technologies has hitherto been lacking. A study was undertaken to assess the factors affecting adoption, dissemination and transfer of these technologies. A technology transfer and uptake action planning stakeholders workshop was then held bringing together researchers, extension agencies and NGOs to discuss and facilitate packaging of the findings of the study and draw up recommendations for the next phase of action.

Masaka and Wakiso districts were the areas selected for the study. These districts lie in the peri-urban intensive dairy production zones where the technologies have been demonstrated to the farmers and potential technology uptake pathways. Socio-economic and gender analysis (SEAGA) qualitative, semi-formal and formal data collection tools were used to elicit data from individual farm families, farmer groups and key informant sources. The bulk of the data was obtained from primary sources and an SPSS computer package was used to analyse primary data based largely on descriptive statistics and non-parametric tests.

Findings of the study confirm that the improved forage chopper attributes have the potential to address the constraints encountered by farmers in forage chopping. The chopper technology is relevant to the felt needs of the farmers and the intervention was timely considering that a hand machete has hitherto been nearly the only technology used in forage chopping. Improved choppers are required to reduce the risks posed by machetes to the users, fodder spoilage, low labour productivity and feed-use efficiency. Data on available chopping methods indicated that 88% of male headed and 79% of female headed households used machetes, 10% of male headed households and 18% of female headed farm families utilised fixed knife choppers and only 3% of both male and female headed households had adopted manual crank wheel choppers.

Farm water conveyance and pumping constraints lead to intensive labour use practices and poor livestock productivity. Head portage at 43% (bicycle at 34% and a combination of head portage and bicycles at 13%) was the major method of collecting water from sources located about a mile away. Children (50%) played the biggest role in water collection but all the same, all household members were involved in the activity. The intervention of the treadle pump with the capacity to draw water and/or raise it to sufficient levels and convey it for household use was also relevant and timely.

Information from focussed farmer groups on the shortcomings of machetes showed that besides its low output capacity and lack of uniformity in length of cut, chopping with machetes was found to be tedious, time consuming and quite dangerous to the operator. Improved fixed knife forage choppers on the other hand were found to be ergonomically safe, less cumbersome with reduced forage chopping and controlled length of chop. There are, however, two shortcomings that farmers have noted on the improved fixed knife forage chopper: it is quite expensive and the aperture through which the machete moves as it cuts often gets blocked with bits of the cut forage. Despite the various advantages realised by some farmers on the use of the improved fixed knife forage choppers, many farmers (87%) had not yet adopted them due to financial limitations, lack of awareness on the possible sources and advantages of the technology as well as the false beliefs and opinions about difficulties encountered in maintenance and repairability of the choppers.

Information on treadle pumps shows that farmers had not largely adopted this technology because its applicability was not consistent with the existing and terrain, especially in Masaka. However, critical need for water acquisition technologies was evidenced. Water collection is a major constraint in most households, drawing household labour from boys, girls, men and women. Roof rain water harvesting is rarely invested in by most farmers although it was evident from households with roof water collection capacity that the water constraint is grossly reduced.

Generally, there was slow pace in dissemination and adoption of the two technologies that were studied. Besides, information about the attributes of these technologies and serviceability was greatly distorted by the non-adopters. There is need to explore a range of methods to deliver agricultural engineering extension messages to the farmers. Use of extension leaflets, bulletins, stakeholder meetings, video or film shows, radios agricultural shows, on farm result or methods demonstrations in conjunction with the essential stakeholders in the agricultural sector could be explored.