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The role of community-based livestock management institutions in the adoption and scaling up of pigeon peas in Malawi

Leo Charles Zulu, Ellis Adjei Adams, Regis Chikowo and Sieglinde Snapp

Food Policy, 2018, vol. 79, issue C, 141-155

Abstract: Although decades of research show long-duration pigeon peas (PPs) as a best-bet technology that enhances nutrition, soil fertility, crop diversification, food security, climate-change resilience, agroecological sustainability, and incomes of resource-poor smallholder farmers in Saharan Africa (SSA), PP adoption remains low. This exploratory qualitative study examines obstacles to PP adoption and their relative importance, strategies used to protect PPs from livestock damage, and the conditions that shape the emergence and effectiveness of Community Based Livestock Management (CBLM) arrangements to prevent PP damage. We conducted focus group discussions, participatory rural appraisal (PRA), and key-informant interviews in five communities at different levels and duration of PP adoption, and used theoretical insights from agrarian political economy. Livestock damage was the biggest obstacle to PP growing in new PP sites; poor markets and production factors dominated in the established sites. Individual crop-protection strategies were often time-consuming, costly, and/or ineffective. While chief-based livestock-management systems protected all crops satisfactorily during the rainy season, they were insufficient to protect PPs during the dry season. CBLM arrangements controlled livestock damage and protected PP relatively effectively throughout the year. Implemented only at the relatively established PP-growing sites, CBLM arrangements were most effective at the site (Mpokwa) where PP prices were good and markets reliable, PP was the top or major cash crop, PP growers were powerful and in the majority, and institutions pre-existed for use in CBLM. The findings lead to the following hypothesis: smallholder farmers are likely to invest time and energy in collective livestock-management approaches to prevent damage to pigeon peas when expected economic benefits of adoption exceed perceived costs for most growers, mediated by socioeconomic differentiation and power relations among major stakeholders. Future research should empirically examine determinants of CBLM emergence for PP protection and scale-up.

Keywords: Food security; Pigeon peas; Legume scaling up; Community-based livestock management; Malawi; Sub-Saharan Africa (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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Handle: RePEc:eee:jfpoli:v:79:y:2018:i:c:p:141-155