Economic evaluation of local inputs in Meru South District, Kenya
Mugendi, Daniel N.
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Declining land productivity is a major problem facing smallholder farmers in Kenya today. This decline is as a result of reduced soil fertility caused by continuous cultivation without adequate addition of manures and fertilizers. Low soil fertility is one of the greatest challenges facing farmers in the central highlands of Kenya. A farmers’ participatory trial was established in Meru South District, Kenya in 2000 to investigate feasible soil nutrient replenishment technologies for poor resource smallholder farmers. Results across seven seasons indicate that sole tithonia gave the highest grain yield followed closely by tithonia with half recommended rate of inorganic fertilizer with 6.4 and 6.3 Mg ha-1respectively. The control treatment gave the lowest yield of 2.2 Mg ha-1 across the seasons. The integration of organic and inorganic nutrient sources of N gave higher maize grain yield as compared to the sole organic materials in all seven seasons. Economic analyses indicate that on average tithonia with half the recommended rate of inorganic fertilizer recorded the highest net benefit (US$ 787.2) whereas the control treatment gave the lowest benefit (US$ 271.7). On the other hand the recommended rate of inorganic fertilizer gave the highest (US$ 12.5) return to labour while sole tithonia gave the lowest (US$ 4.0). On average in the farmers’ fields, manure alone gave the highest return to labour of US$ 3.6, while the control treatment gave the lowest return to labour US$ –0.2.