Not only the seed matters: Farmers’ perceptions of sources for banana planting materials in Uganda
This study (PDF) in Outlook on Agriculture applied a means-end chain analysis to understand farmers’ perceptions of formal and informal sources of banana planting material. The adoption of improved seed and other planting material in developing countries shows mixed results. Apart from the cultivars and variety traits that are attractive to farmers, smallholder farmers’ seed sourcing practices are often influenced by social ties and cultural norms. Therefore it is relevant to understand where and why farmers seek to acquire planting material. The importance of obtaining knowledge while sourcing planting material was striking, in combination with the finding that larger and male farmers considered the formal sources to obtain knowledge, whereas smaller farmers and women saw more opportunity to obtain knowledge from informal sources. Another finding was that not only the amount of income generated is important to farmers, but also the timing and frequency of incomes. Farmers associated formal sources mainly with improved cultivars, tissue culture plantlets and low levels of diversity. Informal seed sources were mostly associated with traditional cultivars, suckers and high levels of diversity. Farmers do not merely look for clean and high yielding planting material that can increase income but take more characteristics related to of the source and the planting material in consideration.The goals farmers pursued while acquiring planting material, such as financial gains, food security, and to sustain and develop the household, were fairly similar among different groups of farmers. The means through which farmers aimed and preferred to pursue these goals differed and could be related to aspects such as gender, production scale and production goals. Perceived benefits and disadvantages of seed sources differ among farmers, which indicates that not only cultivar traits should be tailored to farmers’ preferences and needs, but also the characteristics of the sources from which farmers access planting material.