Exploration of farmers’ preferences and perceptions of maize varieties: implications on development and adoption of quality protein maize (QPM) varieties in Zimbabwe

Posted by Carelia Juarez on , in Journal Articles

Published in Journal of Sustainable Development  7 (2) : 194-207, 2014

Machida, L.; Derera, J.; Tongoona, P.; Langyintuo, A.; MacRobert, J.

Quality protein maize (QPM) technology is relatively new in Zimbabwe and farmer awareness of QPM was low. Participation of smallholder farmers in the development of QPM breeding objectives and dissemination strategies was solicited through participatory rural appraisal (PRA) techniques. Seventy two farmers participated; the farmers were involved in the Mother Baby Trial (MBT) projects in four selected villages from three districts of Zimbabwe. Data collection techniques included work-sharing, village or resource mapping, Venn diagramming, semi structured interviewing, matrix scoring and ranking and pairwise ranking. The results suggested that protein malnutrition was prevalent in the districts. Maize was the most important crop and farmers grew three types of maize, namely landrace (“Hickory King”), open pollinated varieties (OPV) and hybrid varieties all representing normal endosperm maize. Hybrids were dominant and produced mainly for sale, while “Hickory King”, although not supported by the formal seed system, continued to be produced for home consumption because of its superior taste, white kernel color, large kernel size, high kernel density, kernel hardness, and perceived weevil-resistance. Lateness and foliar disease susceptibility were the disadvantages of Hickory King. The ideal maize variety should be early-maturing, with a high yield potential, drought tolerant, foliar disease resistant and stem borer tolerant. For any QPM variety to be acceptable, farmers expected it to combine the agronomic attributes of hybrids and the grain quality characteristics of “Hickory King”, an “heirloom” variety. To effectively promote the adoption of QPM, the Agricultural Research and Extension (AREX) arm of government was the farmers’ choice compared to other modes of information dissemination which were radio, television, newspaper, church NGO and councillor.

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