In spite of the efforts and the emergence of numerous group based interventions for technology dissemination, the productivity and technology uptake levels of smallholder farmers of South Kivu, democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) still remain low. The objectives of this study were therefore to describe the changes in input use, value of production and incomes, determine changes in institutional linkages resulting from group based interventions, quantify the economic gains from the group interventions and finally to determine the factors that influenced the economic gain. Data was collected using structured interview schedule. Multi-stage sampling technique was used to obtain a sample of 360 smallholder farmers (120 farmers from each territory) .The three territories (Ngweshe, Mwenga and Kabare) were purposively selected because of the interventions that were implemented therein, their variability in productivity and income among smallholders. Descriptive statistics (mean comparisons) was used to address objective 1 and objective 2. Economic surplus model was used to address objective 3 and then OLS regression used to address objective 4.Data were analyzed using SPSS software. The findings revealed significant differences in the use of top dressing fertilizer, productivity (value of production) and number of meetings attended among the group and non group farmers(at p<0.05). From the OLS regression, it was established that the factors that significantly influence economic gain were credit (-0.415), radio farmer programmes (0.004) and off-farm income (0.561) at p<0.05.The differences in input use levels, value of production and economic gains between group and non group farmers underscore the importance of farmer groups in improving productivity and welfare of smallholders in Congo. The study therefore recommends policy interventions to increase credit access by farmers and information access via farmer radio programmes as well as promotion of projects that incorporate more income generating activities along with the technology package to make the new innovations affordable to the resource poor farmers.

Background Information 
Over the past four decades (from 1960 to 1999) the estimated rate of agricultural productivity change was 0.83% annually in East and Central Africa countries, although the average rate from 1985 to 1999 was 1.9% annually. Former British colonies exhibited significantly higher productivity gains than others, while countries that had been colonies of Portugal or Belgium like the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC exhibited significant reduction in productivity especially during political conflicts (Lilyan et al., 2004; Cirimwami and Mashika, 1999). 

Like most of Sub-Saharan Africa countries, DRC depends to a great extent on the growth of the agricultural sector, from which over 60% of the population derives its livelihood. According to the UN Millennium Project (2005a), the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) number one of poverty reduction forms an integral part of agricultural dependence in Sub- Saharan Africa and DRC in particular. Efforts to improve and sustain the sector's productivity therefore would be crucial to the nation’s economic development and the welfare of her people. 

For a long time, measures to alleviate poverty among smallholder farmers in Africa have focused on individual farmers all through the 21st century. However, these have not yielded much success, forcing research and development organizations to focus their efforts on technological innovations and other interventions through groups or community based approaches. The potential gain in productivity through group interventions is a major factor underlying the need for developing countries to promote groups. Group actions are analyzed within the concept of collective action. This concept is well developed under the theory of the New Institutional Economics (NIE). It is based on institutional approach to solving societal problems, and focuses on the conditions under which groups of people with common interests choose and act to achieve their respective interest (Clague, 1997), a concept that is important in a country like DRC where government institutions are generally weak and recovering from the second conflict (from 1997 to 2003) . The farmer groups fill some of the voids generated by this situation for example in input and output marketing. 

Group networks are important because they create long-lasting relationships between individual farmers and expand the opportunity for the development partners to relax current liability limits. Among the most notable theories of moral hazard are models by Stiglitz (1990), Ghatak and Guinane (1999) and Ghatak (1999). Stiglitz shows how peer monitoring under joint liability mitigate moral hazardous behavior among group members. He observes that group members under joint liability reduce the cost of monitoring activities of the group and subsequent outcomes of its activities. 

Group approaches to dissemination of innovations is preferred to farmer to farmer approach since it has helped in strengthening seed systems and tailoring them towards specific agro-ecological and socio-economic environments. This facilitates coordination in seed distribution, genetic management, monitoring performance and seed production by the known groups, seed rich in quality, germination and vigour. The group experiments allow farmers to explore new products with limited risks and expense as well as having more influence in the selection process. 

The synergies in the group projects enable farmers, researchers and donors understand farmer strategies and practices of soil fertility management before developing appropriate technologies that fit various production micro-niches. Collective feedback of farmers’ concerns are responded to. Besides, farmers also gain from information and trainings offered through the groups in their activities to even help them in output marketing.

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Item Type: Kenyan Topic  |  Size: 59 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.


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