10 years later, farmers still reap benefits of improved groundnut varieties

By Allison Floyd

University of Georgia, Peanut & Mycotoxin Innovation Lab

The impact of research often can be measured only several years after the research project ends. This is the case with the work undertaken by the previous Peanut Collaborative Research Support Program that supported a farmer-led seed multiplication and dissemination project for groundnut growers implemented by the non-governmental organization AT Uganda Ltd. between 2000 and 2004 in the Northeastern region of Uganda.

The Peanut & Mycotoxin Innovation Lab supports a project to determine the benefits of the Peanut CRSP project for smallholder farmers in participating villages and households by examining the adoption of improved groundnut varieties and effect of adoption on productivity. Our findings suggest that the adoption levels for improved seeds and associated yields are significantly higher for participating farmers, after controlling for other relevant factors. We also included questions on aflatoxin to gain insights related to awareness and the use of mitigation practices by farmers.

The study relies on data collected in 2004 and 2013 from participating farm households as well as a set of non-participating or control households. The control sample is composed of both neighbors (located in the same villages as participants) and non-neighbors (located in non-participating villages).

We found that participating farmers allocated 21% more of their available land to improved groundnut varieties. The results also show that, for improved varieties, beneficiaries produce 32% higher yields than their non-participating neighbors, and 55% higher yields relative to non-neighbor controls. This implies that the project led to significant increases in profitability for participating farmers.

In addition, we observed significant spillover from the project, which is clearly revealed by the yield difference between non-participating neighboring households and non-neighbor controls. Effectively, the beneficiaries of the project transferred some benefits to the neighbor control group over the course of the 10-year period following the project. This is itself an important result suggesting that farmer-led programs offer additional advantages to developing communities and may provide a cost-effective means of information and technology dissemination.

The results reveal the lasting impact of the program over the 10-year period. The sustainability of development interventions is often considered an important objective, but is rarely documented because the data required is simply not available. In other words, having data spanning a considerable time gap between the project’s conclusion and the follow-up survey with minor attrition makes it possible to examine the sustainability of the original intervention.

The 2013 data also contains information about aflatoxin awareness. Based on the survey responses we concluded that there is very little knowledge of aflatoxin among all farmers interviewed. Many farmers indicated that they discard the moldy or rotten peanuts; but, on the other hand, very few farmers implement key aflatoxin mitigation practices (e.g., proper drying or storage). Apparently, additional efforts are needed to raise awareness and provide training to farmers in the groundnut growing regions of Northeastern Uganda, a notion that has been reaffirmed by our local collaborators. Moreover, the data suggests that overall yields are much lower for all groups, including those that use improved varieties, when compared to test plots.

Finally, this research provides evidence to support continued training and extension in the region, which remains an essential tool for farmers the world over.

Published January 28, 2016