Agriculture & Food Security

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ISSN / EISSN : 2048-7010 / 2048-7010
Total articles ≅ 335
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, Aron Joseph Nkua, Zacharia Samwel Masanyiwa
Published: 12 July 2021
Agriculture & Food Security, Volume 10, pp 1-12; doi:10.1186/s40066-021-00293-x

Background Food insecurity is a widespread public health concern in many communities of sub-Saharan Africa. This study involved the Hadza hunter-gatherers of Tanzania, the only ethnic group in the country that has traditionally subsisted on hunting and gathering. In recent years, however, these communities have adopted mixed foraging economies. Information on how this change affects household food security is rather limited. The aim of this study was to assess the status of food security and the factors influencing household food security in the Hadza hunter-gatherer communities. Methods A cross-sectional study of 200 households was conducted in Mkalama district, Tanzania. Sampled householders represented individuals whose livelihood is mainly dependent on foraging (n = 129), beekeeping (n = 30) and farming (n = 41). Food security was measured by assessing food availability (Months of Adequate Food Provisioning (MAHFP)), food access (Household Food Insecurity Access Scale (HFIAS)) and food utilization (Dietary Diversity Scores (DDS)). Results Mean MAHFP was lower (p = 0.000) in predominantly foraging households (8.4 ± 1.1) compared with those involved in beekeeping (8.7 ± 1.6) or farming (9.6 ± 1.9). Based on HFIAS indicator, the prevalence of food insecurity varied with the household’s main activity (83.0% foraging, 46.7% beekeeping and 26.8% farming). Further, regression analyses show that the farming households were more likely to be food secure than the foraging households (OR = 10.7, p = 0.01). Dietary diversity scores also varied significantly with household’s main activity. About 65% of households (86% foraging, 63.3% beekeeping and 2.4% farming) consumed diets below the critical value of ≤ 4 food groups 24 h prior to survey. Social demographic characteristics and livelihood options are strong predictors of household food security. Conclusion All indicators used to assess food security point to high level of food insecurity in households mainly subsisting on foraging compared with beekeeping and farming. The primary dependence on foraging is associated with a longer period of food shortage, high prevalence of food insecurity conditions and low consumption of food varieties. Livelihood diversification coupled with provision of agricultural support services is necessary for the development of a secure future of the Hadza communities.
Daniel Adu Ankrah, , Dennis Eghan, Francis Adarkwah, Dominic Boateng-Gyambiby
Published: 28 June 2021
Agriculture & Food Security, Volume 10, pp 1-14; doi:10.1186/s40066-021-00292-y

Background Weather-related risks thwart agricultural productivity gains especially in the face of climate change. Agricultural insurance serves as a reliable risk mitigation instrument for coping with climate-related hazards. This notwithstanding, agricultural insurance penetration among smallholder farmers in the global south remains low. This study investigated the access and acceptability of agricultural insurance among smallholder food crop farmers in Ghana. Method The study employed a mixed-methods approach involving both quantitative and qualitative approaches. The study was carried out in the Northern, Volta and Western regions involving 7 communities in 5 districts. A total of 200 farmers were sampled through a multi-stage purposive sampling and interviewed. A cross-sectional survey involved 100 respondents under the quantitative approach whilst the qualitative study engaged additional 100 farmers. Results The results show that smallholder farmers’ access and acceptability of agricultural insurance is low (14%) and scarce but ironically considered useful by many (90%) as an effective tool to deal with agricultural risks. Inadequate knowledge about agricultural insurance products constituted the most stated reason (64%) for the scarce adoption rate, followed (23%) by the unavailability of insurance products in areas needed but absent. A few (5%) reported insurance to be expensive. Acceptability and accessibility of agricultural insurance are further influenced by gender, educational level, low knowledge, information asymmetry and wrong perception concerning agricultural insurance products. Sense of security and reduced impact of climate variabilities constituted important benefits guaranteed by agricultural insurance. Conclusions Agricultural insurance access and acceptability is constrained by limited knowledge of agricultural insurance products. It is recommended that more insurance companies be incentivized to augment already existing efforts by Ghana Agricultural Insurance Pool (GAIP) to enroll more smallholder farmers. The government can consider bundling existing insurance products with credit or inputs under the Planting for Food and Jobs Programme (PFJ) to improve uptake and accessibility of agricultural insurance.
Atefeh Ahmadi Dehrashid, , , Hossein Ahmadi Dehrashid, Bahram Nasrollahizadeh, Akbar Mohammadi
Published: 18 June 2021
Agriculture & Food Security, Volume 10, pp 1-18; doi:10.1186/s40066-021-00291-z

Background Food security is considered a pivotal factor for the sustainable development of communities and focus on this issue in rural areas. More specifically, it is of paramount importance in developing countries. Accordingly, this descriptive-analytical study aimed to evaluate the status of food security in rural areas of Iran. The main originality of the present study is to assess the strategic future-oriented vision for food security in addition to the evaluation of the current status of the studied area. Methodology Data were collected using the standard questionnaire of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and a researcher-made close-ended questionnaire. The validity and reliability of the research instrument were confirmed by a panel of specialists and Cronbach’s alpha coefficients, respectively. In addition, data analysis was performed using SPSS24 (to analyze the descriptive statistics) and Fuzzy Technique for Order Preference by Similarity to Ideal Situation (FTOPSIS). Results According to the results, 80% of the villagers suffered from food insecurity (25% in low food insecurity situation, 42% in moderate food insecurity situation, and 13% in severe food insecurity situation). Evaluation of the factors affecting food insecurity demonstrated that economic (standardized weight of 0.566), stability (standardized weight of 0.559), and availability (standardized weight of 0.558) were the most important components affecting food insecurity. Moreover, in a systemic approach, the growth of migration from rural to urban areas, pressure on water and soil resources, and the occurrence of environmental hazards are of the most significant consequences of food insecurity. In addition, due to the excessive use of underground water for cucurbits, which is the dominant cultivation pattern in this region, the groundwater level has dropped sharply in some villages farther from the city which can be alarming for exacerbating food insecurity in the near future. Conclusion Since the low-income level of villagers, lack of job diversity, and lack of access to adequate food are the main reasons for food insecurity, in this respect, it is suggested that more attention be paid to the development of occupations and job diversity in these regions by decision-makers and policy-makers.
Nana Afranaa Kwapong, , Jonathan Nicholas Anaglo, Enoch Yao Vukey
Published: 10 June 2021
Agriculture & Food Security, Volume 10, pp 1-11; doi:10.1186/s40066-021-00309-6

Background Ghana’s smallholder share area under cultivation is witnessing a gradual decline, relative to the share of farmland under medium scale that is growing rapidly. Little attention has, however, been given to examining the drivers that influence scale of operation. Method Using survey data from 231 farmers, this study employed the binary probit regression to assess factors that influence scale of farm operation among cassava and maize farmers in Ghana’s Eastern Region. Results The findings showed that factors that were significant and positively related to farm size were age, secondary education, land acquisition for maize farmers, and tertiary education for cassava farmers. On the other hand, factors that were significant and negatively related to farm size were gender, marital status, access to extension services for cassava farmers, and household size, membership of farmer-based organization and access to credit for maize farmers. Conclusion The study recommends the provision of mechanization support for medium-scale farmers coupled with the improvement of extension service delivery to medium-scale farmers. With messages focused on the adoption of improved technologies and mechanization of farm operations.
Alemayehu Abera, Teshome Yirgu, Abera Uncha
Published: 10 June 2021
Agriculture & Food Security, Volume 10, pp 1-19; doi:10.1186/s40066-021-00305-w

Background Livelihood diversification plays a decisive role for the reduction of poverty, food insecurity and to improve the welfare of rural communities. However, inadequate research attention has been given to explore the determinants of livelihood diversification strategies in resettlement areas of Ethiopia. This study attempts to investigate determinants of livelihood diversification strategies among the resettler households in Chewaka district of Ethiopia. Methods The study utilized both primary and secondary data which are qualitative and quantitative in their nature. Through multistage sampling procedure, a total of 384 households were selected from seven sample kebeles of Chewaka district. Data were collected using interview schedule, focus group discussions and field observations. The collected data were analyzed quantitatively and qualitatively. Descriptive and inferential statistics along with multinomial logit model have been employed to analyze the data. Results The results showed that agriculture (43.2%), agriculture plus non-farm (25.5%), agriculture plus off-farm (19.3%) and a combination of agriculture plus non-farm plus off-farm (12%) activities are the most pertinent livelihood strategies in the study area. It was found that agriculture has a leading contribution to the total households’ income (72.5%) followed by non-farm (20%) and off-farm activities (7.5%). Multinomial logit model result revealed that land holding size, educational status, livestock holding, sex, age, market distance, credit access, annual income, access to training and household sizes were the major determinants of livelihood diversification strategies. Moreover, poor infrastructural development, lack of working capital, absence of technical support, inadequate skill training and lack of awareness are constraints to livelihood diversification in the area. Conclusions The study concludes that agricultural sector alone cannot be relied upon as the core activity for rural households and as a means of reducing poverty, achieving food security and improving livelihoods in the study area. Thus, a comprehensive development plan that enhances successful livelihood diversification is found to be imperative and most urgent. Policies and actions directed towards improving livelihood of the resettlers’ communities should focus on expanding rural infrastructures, enhancing awareness creation activities and cooperation of stakeholders to bring sustainable livelihood outcome in the area.
, Hussein Shimelis, Mark Laing, Isack Mathew
Agriculture & Food Security, Volume 10, pp 1-13; doi:10.1186/s40066-021-00290-0

Background Bread wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) is a valuable commodity crop for local, regional and global markets. In Ethiopia, wheat ranks third after maize (Zea mays L.) and tef (Eragrostis tef Zucc.) in terms of total production, and fourth after maize, tef and sorghum (Sorghum bicolor L.) in areas of cultivation. The major wheat-producing areas are mainly found in the mid-altitude (1900 to 2300 m above sea level) and high-altitude (2300 to 2700 m above sea level) regions of the country that are regarded as high-potential environments due to their high and reliable rainfall. However, wheat is widely adapted and grows in diverse environments. It is produced mainly under rainfed condition by small-scale farmers. The country is ranked first in wheat production in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) followed by South Africa, Sudan and Kenya. However, the average productivity of the crop is 2.4 tons ha–1, which is lower than the global (3.4 tons ha–1) average, which is due to low adoption of new improved varieties. The objective of this study was to assess farmers’ preferred traits of bread wheat variety, factors influencing their adoption for new improved variety and perceived production constraints of wheat under drought-prone agro-ecologies of Ethiopia. Methodology The study was conducted in selected districts of Arsi Zone in the Oromia Regional State of Ethiopia during 2018. A multistage random sampling was employed to arrive at household level. Data were collected based on primary and secondary sources. Relationships were examined through frequency, percentages and Chi-square values within and between districts for variables considered. Kendall’s coefficient of concordance (W) analysis was used to identify the varietal attributes that are most preferred by the farmers. Binary logistic regression model was used to determine the factors influencing farmers’ adoption of improved varieties. Rank Based Quotient (RBQ) was computed to identify the most important production constraints perceived by the farmers in the study areas. Results High grain yield was the most preferred trait as perceived by the farmers in the study areas followed by stress adaptation (drought and heat stress tolerance), disease resistance and early maturity. The binary logistic regression model showed socio-demographic characteristics, such as education had positive and significant (p < 0.01) effect on adoption of new improved bread wheat varieties. Gender and access to extension officers affected the adoption negatively and significantly (p < 0.05). Varietal attributes, such as early maturity (p < 0.01) and plant height (p < 0.05), had positive and significant effects on adoption of new improved varieties, while adaptation and baking quality had negative and significant (p < 0.05) influences on the acceptance of the new improved varieties. Moisture stress, disease (especially rust) and the high cost of fertilizers were, in order, first-, second- and third-ranked production constraints in the study areas. Conclusions Farmers had different variety-specific trait preferences. Grain yield, rust resistance, adaptation to drought and heat stresses, and early maturity were the most farmer-preferred traits. Socio-demographic factors, such as gender, education level and access to extension officers, influenced variety adoption by the farmers. Early maturity, plant height, baking quality and stress adaptation were the major varietal characteristics contributing towards adoption of new improved bread wheat varieties. Drought stress, disease (especially rust) and the high cost of fertilizers were among the major constraints of wheat production identified by the farmers. This study can serve as a guide for future wheat breeding programmes incorporating farmer-preferred traits, including stress adaptation (drought and heat tolerance). This will enhance adoption of newly developed improved varieties and for sustainable production and food security of smallholder farmers in drought-prone areas. Future wheat improvement and extension programmes of the National Agricultural Research System (NARS) should involve marginal wheat-growing environments to boost adoption of new improved varieties and the production potential of the crop.
, M. Bundi, J. Nicodemus, J. Ochieng, D. Marandu, S. S. Njau, R. F. Kessy, F. Williams, D. Karanja, J. A. Tambo, et al.
Agriculture & Food Security, Volume 10, pp 1-10; doi:10.1186/s40066-021-00289-7

Background Quality seed is at the core of the technological packages needed to increase crop production, nutrition, and rural wellbeing. However, smallholder farmers in Tanzania have limited access to affordable quality seeds, and over 90% of seed sown is saved by farmers from previous harvests, though its quality is often poor. The Good Seed Initiative (GSI) aimed to enhance access to quality African indigenous vegetable (AIV) seed in Tanzania, through the promotion of farmer seed production, using two models—contract farming and Quality Declared Seed (QDS). This study assessed post-GSI project sustainability factors and explored the prospects for replicating the approach in a wider regional context. Methods The study was conducted in Arusha and Dodoma, targeting locations where the GSI project was implemented. Qualitative tools employing focus group discussions (73 men, 69 women), and key informant interviews were used for data collection. Results Farmer seed production under both models continued to thrive, creating avenues for income diversification and contributing over 50% to household incomes. Farmer seed production contributed to increased availability of quality seed for vegetable growers, especially in central Tanzania that is less served by the formal sector. However, QDS production was challenged by a lack of access to foundation seed, inspections, and seed testing services, which are key for quality seed production. Conclusions Results reveal unequivocally that farmer seed production offers a potentially sustainable solution to the problem of seed supply while providing income benefits for seed producers. The market-based approach used by the project and partnerships with the formal sector, coupled with stimulation of demand through nutritional awareness campaigns, were strong contributory factors to the survival of farmer seed production. Farmer-led seed systems, especially QDS, deserve support from the government to develop a tailored and appropriate seed system that meets the ever-evolving needs of smallholder farmers. Adoption gender-inclusive approaches, particularly in contract farming is paramount to benefit women as much as men.
Agriculture & Food Security, Volume 10, pp 1-10; doi:10.1186/s40066-021-00288-8

Background Small-scale poultry farming plays a major role as a source of income for farmers through the sale of birds and eggs. Furthermore, in households’ poultry products are a valuable source of protein in the diet—especially in low-income communities. However, these farmers are facing a challenge with the rising cost of conventional feed. Climate change and global warming play a role in changing farming activities and affecting household food security. Therefore, replacing traditional ingredients with insects in chicken diets is gaining popularity worldwide. The purpose of this study was to assess the willingness of small-scale poultry farmers to adopt the use of yellow mealworm in diets for chickens. A total number of 107 farmers in the City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality were selected using snowball sampling and were interviewed face to face using a semi-structured questionnaire. Results Descriptive statistics and binary logistic regression were used to analyse the data. The results of the study showed that 72% of respondents, the majority of whom were male, were willing to adopt mealworm as poultry feed. About 51% of the participants were willing to eat chicken that was reared using mealworms, even though 85% had not seen mealworms before. Furthermore, it was found that farmers who used mixed corn and who had secondary education were more willing to adopt mealworms as an alternative protein source in chicken feed. Conclusion Small-scale poultry farmers in Tshwane accept the use of mealworm as chicken feed. It is recommended that the early adopters of mealworms as poultry feed be profiled so that communication strategies can be developed to deal with the fears and attitudes of farmers who are not willing to adopt mealworms as poultry feed. Since the majority of the farmers who are willing to adopt mealworm had secondary education, it would be beneficial if small-scale poultry farmers are educated about the benefits of using yellow mealworm as a substitute in poultry feed.
Leul Kidane, Alemu Kejela
Agriculture & Food Security, Volume 10, pp 1-16; doi:10.1186/s40066-021-00308-7

Background Wild edible plants (WEPs) have an important role for rural communities in safeguarding food security, nutritive variation and continued earnings. Their significance, management and utilization are not fully documented. Objectives are to identify and document wild and semi-wild edible plants (WSWEPs) and their conservation status in Berek natural forest, Oromia special zone. Methods Various data collection tools were employed to gather data on WSWEPs. Ethnobotanical data were collected from 142 household representatives (77 men and 65 women) being at least 14 years old. Most of them (73.9%) had not received formal education. Data were analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics, preference ranking, paired comparison, direct matrix ranking and informant consensus factor. Results A total of 34 useful WSWEP species belonging to 32 genera and 24 families were collected and identified. The family Rosaceae had the highest number of species (five species, 14.7%), followed by Anacardiaceae and Solanaceae with three species (8.8%) each. Growth form analysis showed that the majority of the species were trees (14 species; 41.2%), followed by herbs and shrubs (10 species each, 29.4%. These edible plants were available in different seasons; 15 (44%) of the plant species reached maturity in spring season while seven species (20.6%) were found in all seasons and eight (23.6%) species were able to reach maturity in autumn and winter. Although most of the local communities have an intimate relationship with their natural environment, there are common threats to WSWEPs and their habitat, particularly through overgrazing, fragmentation of the vegetation for agricultural expansion, introduction of exotic species, selective logging for construction purpose and charcoal making. Conclusion WSWEPs are valuable resources for improving the environment, food and nutritional security and income of households in rural areas. Moreover, to sustainably use edible plant species of the study area local communities and the Forest Administration should collaborate in managing these resources before becoming critically endangered.
, Mercy Mutua, Collins Odhiambo, Yvonne Kiki Nchanji, David Karanja
Agriculture & Food Security, Volume 10, pp 1-12; doi:10.1186/s40066-021-00286-w

Background The notion of leisure became pronounced more than 20 years ago when women who worked on or out of the farm came home to a “second shift,” which entailed domestic work and childcare. This gap continues today not only between men and women but also among women and men. Women's challenges in terms of their leisure arise out of or are shaped by social norms and different life contexts. Method The Women's Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI) was conducted to understand women's empowerment and disempowerment status in agricultural activities in five counties in Kenya in 2017. In 2019, focus group discussions were carried out in two of the five counties to understand how men and women farmers define leisure and assess the leisure gap and its effect on women's farm and household activities. We were also interested in understanding how men's and women's workload affects leisure and other productive economic activities, resulting in empowerment and how women’s unpaid work contributes to income poverty. Result The WEAI showed that 28% of disempowerment (5DE) in women farmers is due to lack of time for leisure activities and 18% from being overworked. This means that the time indicator accounts for 46% of disempowerment in Kenyan women bean farmers. Men in Bomet and Narok spent more time than women in raising large livestock and leisure. Women in Bomet spent more time than men in cooking and domestic work (fetching water and collecting fuelwood), while men in Bomet spent more time than women in managing their businesses. Conclusion Work overload is a constraining factor to women's empowerment in bean production and agricultural productivity. What is considered leisure for men and women is embedded in society’s social fabrics, and it is contextual. This paper highlights instances where leisure provides a way for women to embody and/or resist the discourses of gender roles in the bean value chain and households to enhance food security and health.
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