Livelihood type-specific determinants of household’s choices of land use and farm management practices, and crop productivity in Riviridzi catchment, Ntcheu Malawi
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The study has found different impacts of socio-ecological factors on cropping, fertilizer use and soil and water conservation practices when analyses are done at whole sample or farm type specific. Household behaviour also changes according to the phenomenon at hand. Factors that are influential for cropping system are either not key determinants for farmers to use fertilizer nor have differing effect on soil and water conservation practices. It has been found that off farm income influences the cropping decision at whole sample and farmtype1 level. However, aggregating the sampled farmers for analysis, as often done, we find that level of education and transport facilities are also significant determinants. Since most soils in the region have low soil fertility, yield of most crops significantly increases with application of nitrogen and phosphorus containing fertilisers. The study has found differing patterns of fertiliser usage that follow the ecological gradient. The logistic model shows that in addition to the topographic cum ecological factors, ease of access to fertilisers has significant impact on farmers decision to apply fertilisers or not. Apparently land fragmentation and communication have been fund to have a negative influence on the fertilizer usage choice. Extent of fertilizer usage, analysed by Tobit model, is constrained by labour used and increasing ratio of dependants. It has been found that usage of SWC practices vary between the topographic positions of the clustered sampled farms. Farmer’s perception of soil fertility is significant at farmtype1 level but has no effect on the overall sample. This implies that among the poor household group, there is a significant difference in the way users of SWC perceive their soils compared to non-users. Land fragmentation has also been found to have a negative effect on usage of SWC for both the whole sample and within the farmtype1. Contact with extension has been found to have a positive and significant effect at both levels where as the women’s active role in farming decision is only significant when farm types are aggregated.