Analysing the potential of plant clinics to boost crop protection in Rwanda through adoption of IPM: the case of maize and maize stem borers
Published: March, 2019
Maize plays an important role in the livelihoods of rural communities in Rwanda. However, maize yields are threatened by the presence of pests and diseases and a general lack of knowledge and information for their management. In this study we sought to assess if plant clinics are making farmers more aware and knowledgeable of pests and diseases and are indirectly contributing to higher yields. We interviewed 644 farmers across Rwanda, both users and non-users of plant clinics. Propensity score matching was used to match the users and non-users of plant clinics and logistic regression was used to assess a number of factors, including interactions with plant clinics, that affect farmers’ adoption of pest management practices. Our analysis shows that users of plant clinics are more aware and knowledgeable in recognizing and handling maize stem borers. Furthermore, users of plant clinics have on average higher yields than non-users and this difference is highly significant (P < 0.001). The analysis therefore demonstrates that plant clinics are beneficial to farmers in Rwanda. However, efforts are required to diversify the spectrum of practices that are promoted by plant clinics and by extension and advisory services in Rwanda.
Worldwide, over 500 million smallholder farmers provide food for two-thirds of the earth’s growing population. Achieving a zero hunger world by 2030 depends on increasing the productivity of these smallholder farmers – but their crops face a significant threat. Yearly, an estimated 40% of crops grown worldwide are lost to pests. If we could reduce crop losses by just 1%, we could potentially feed millions more people. The lack of access to timely, appropriate and actionable extension advice makes it a fundamental challenge for farmers to get the right information at the right time to reduce crop losses.