Publication of this article has been made possible through the Transforming African Agricultural Universities to meaningfully contribute to Africa’s growth and development (TAGDev) Project funded by MasterCard Foundation.
Economic analysis of different weed control methods used by smallholder maize farmers in Swaziland
Weeds control is one of the expensive agronomical practices in maize production and has a direct effect on ultimate returns to especially the rural-poor small-scale farmers. Moreover, high weed infestation increases the cost of cultivation, lowers value of land, and reduces the returns to maize producers. This study was carried out to determine the most economic weeding technology used by maize farmers in Swaziland and determine the factors influencing farmers choice in choosing weed control methods. The study used primary data collected through personal interview from 240 randomly selected maize farmers in all the four agro-ecological zones of Swaziland. Descriptive statistics and a Multinomial logistic regression model was used to analyze the data. Gross margins and independent sample t-test were used to ascertain the most economic weed control method. About 65% of farmers interviewed were using only hand hoe (manual) method of weeding, 19% were mainly using herbicides and only 16% were using integrated approached (Herbicides + hand hoe) to weed their fields. With manual weed control method used as the base, factors influencing the choice of herbicides methods were; maize yields/ha, level of education, off-farm income, farmers’ sex, intercropping as farming system and group membership. The choice of integrated weed control method was influenced by; grain yield per hectare, off-farm income, total variable cost/ha and group membership. The gross margins indicated that herbicides method had higher net benefits than the other methods. Thus, the study recommended that farmers choose herbicides weed control method to increase their economic benefits. Farmers should form strong association that would represent their interest and support their financial base. Moreover, the government should strengthen other economic activities in rural areas so to catalyze job creation and income generation. This will help farmers to have money for purchasing improved farming inputs.
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