In to US$390 million annually or 3.8% of gross

In
Sub-Saharan Africa, more than 70% of the poor live in rural areas. They heavily
dependent on their natural resource base, particularly soil and its productive
capacity. The main physical asset of poor farmers is land, and its contribution
to their income which is far more important than the physical capital. Land
degradation in the form of soil erosion and nutrient depletion pose a threat to
food security and the sustainability of agricultural production, particularly in
the less favored

dryland
areas. In Kenya, the magnitude of soil erosion losses to the economy has been
estimated as equivalent to US$390 million annually or 3.8% of gross domestic
product (Cohen et al., 2006)

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Use of hybrid seeds among
smallholder maize farmers has not resulted in corresponding increases in
production despite the fact that more than three quarters of smallholder maize
farmers have adopted improved seed. Given that a large majority of smallholder
farmers grow maize, getting farmers to grow varieties that are suited to their
environments is a key strategy. Sub-Saharan Africa’s
agricultural performance has been variably called the world’s foremost global
challenge (United Nations, 1997) and as “still very far behind” the rest of
Africa (Odulaja and Kiros, 1996 p.86). Moreover, the region’s population is
increasing, and is expected to account for30% of the underdeveloped world by
the year 2010.

A recent study by Tegemeo Institute
of Agricultural Policy and Development and the University of California found
that by targeting the right variety for the area in which it is grown, maize
productivity increased by 40%. However, challenges remain in getting farmers to
adopt this technologies. Many cannot afford the higher cost of improved seed
and fertilizer and have no access to financing. Some cannot afford fertilizer
to maximize yields, while some plots with poor soils do not respond to fertilizer.
Some simply do not have access to verifiable quality seed and fertilizer in their
local stores. First, and most importantly, farmers need to learn about the new
varieties. Information about these varieties is sometimes scanty, resulting in
farmers having unmet expectations that may result in failure to adopt these
technologies. Secondly, farmers should use complementary inputs to the
recommended levels. Although technological innovation is proven to increase
yields for key staples, combined use of fertilizer and improved seed is still
low. The study found that although farmers use the correct seed rate for hybrid
seeds (a farmer should plant between 8-10 kilograms of seed per acre), farmers
use slightly above the recommended rate for fertilizer. Farmers must ensure the
fertilizer used enriches the soil.

According
to a KALRO study in 2015, a majority of the soils in the maize-growing region
are acidic. Therefore, farmers should use fertilizers that are blended with the
required nutrients and trace minerals to maximize their output. Key to getting
farmers to increase use of fertilizer is providing innovative financing option
to farmers, and improving knowledge and access to required mix of nutrients.
Thirdly, farmers should be able to get the knowledge in a way that is easily
understandable for them to make the necessary decisions.

The present study contributes to the
literature by analyzing the adoption of technology on maize productivity by
smallholder farmers in Kericho parts of Kenya. The specific objectives of the study
is to determine whether access to information affects farmers in adoption of
maize improvement technology, examines current maize-farming
practices; and to analyze farmer characteristics towards modern farming
techniques that influenced adoption in Kericho, Kenya

The
study uses farm-household survey data and descriptive methods. This provides
insights for strengthening the national extension systems that are now under
the county governments. Increasing the food available per capita requires a
paradigm shift to overcome yield stagnation. This entails policy interventions
that operationalize the promotion of technology bundles that complement each
other to boost crop yields, diversify technology options, and address liquidity
and investment constraints. Technology adoption is a function of both
smallholder farmer demand and the markets available to them. Increasing
investments in research and development can lead to well-tailored innovations
such as hybrid seeds and fertilizers that can overcome pest and diseases in
mid-altitude areas. Improving access to credit and markets could help ensure that
innovations in seed systems are truly profitable for smallholder farmers. With
persistent pressure

on
available land resources and the generally risky nature of the sector, there is
no doubt that farmers will rely more on technological innovations to boost
productivity. This would enable smallholder farmers to harness arising
opportunities for improved household welfare from participating in the market.