Ethno medicinal products used in banana production, management practices, farmers’ perception and efficacy in Masaka and Mpigi districts, Uganda

Banana failure among smallholder farmers resulting from high incidence of banana weevils and other pests and diseases has resulted into a poverty trap for farmers, food insecurity and reduced economic growth among the banana producing communities. Use of ethnomedicinal products can offer alternative to farmers who cannot afford to buy the expensive synthetic agro-chemicals which are also known to be a health and environmental hazard. The study investigated the extent of farmers’ use; the farmers’ perceived effectiveness of ethnomedicinal product and weevils’, percentage coefficient of infestation in plantations where ethnomedicinal products are used and where they are not. Quantitative and qualitative experimental and social economic approaches were used. Results indicated that most farmers (50.4%) still rely on cultural practices to control banana pests and diseases; 30.6% use ethnomedicinal products and 19% that use synthetic pesticides. It was also established that women were more likely to use cultural practices and ethnomedicinal products on a subsistence level of production and men were more likely to use chemicals on commercial scale. Use of ethnomedicinal products increased with the level of education, although people with tertiary education tended not to use the products. The finding that farmers who had never attended any schooling were more unlikely to use the products was an unusual result. It was also found out that most of the farmers (53%) especially women, intercropped banana with an annual crop or medicinal plants. The logistic model indicated that women were more likely to rate ethnomedicinal products effective than men in a ratio of 4:1 Being knowledgeable (aware) about the product was a significant factor in adoption of ethnomedicinal products and farmers’ perception about them (P-value =0.05). Training was highly significant (P-value=0.008) for women who used ethnomedicinal products as compared to men (P-value=0.235) where training did not significantly result in usage of ethnomedicinal products. Most farmers who had livestock regarded ethnomedicinal products effective 5 times more than those who don’t keep livestock (P-value= 0.041). Farmers who used ethnomedicinal products had a relatively lower PCI resulting from banana weevils. REML analysis indicated a significant difference (P-value = <0.001) between plantation where synthetic chemicals, clean planting materials (tissue culture), cultural practices and ethnomedicinal products were used. There was also significant variation resulting from different varieties grown (P-value=<0.001) as different varieties responded differently to banana weevils. However, there was no significant variation resulting from the response of different varieties to the different treatments (P-value= 0.262). Multiple comparison indicated that there was no significant difference between a farmer who applied ethnomedicinal product from those who applied synthetic chemicals on banana (Pvalue= 0.678) although farmers who applied ethnomedicinal products had a lower average PCI. However, results indicated that when one uses ethnomedicinal products the percentage coefficient of infestation (PCI) with the mean of 3.88% was less than for those farmers who applied synthetic chemicals directly on mat with PCI of 5.02% or farmers who observed cultural practices with a mean PCI of 6.70%. Therefore based on the results, use of ethnomedicinal products should be investigated further as it can offer reduction in banana weevils in banana plantations to farmers who can’t afford synthetic chemicals below economic injury level; nevertheless this still needs further investigation. Also there is need to find the mode of preparation and application that are not labour intensive and can be suited to women who were found to be the major users of ethnomedicinal products. The study also recommended use of alternative training methods like community radios which are suited to women since it was found that women could not attend trainings; due to maternal child rearing activities if seminars are conducted at the same time as they are preparing for the family.
Date of publication: 
Region Focus: 
East Africa
RUFORUM Theses and Dissertations
Licence conditions: 
Open Access
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Dr. Julius Mwine from Uganda Martyrs University and Prof. Grace Njeri Njoroge (JKUAT)
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