Adoption of a technology varies from place to place. According to the Rogers Diffusion Theory, most technologies are adopted by farmers if they are perceived to have returns. It is from this view point that this research assessed the role of socioeconomic and environmental factors in the diffusion of the zero grazing (ZG) technology in Samia Sub-County, Kenya. A survey, using a questionnaire and observations was conducted in Lower and Upper Samia. The study employed strata sampling, that is in the Lower Samia and the Upper Samia due to the differences in agro- ecological zones. Additionally, purposive sampling was employed to select households to be surveyed. A sample size of 200 households was selected using the coefficient of variation formula. Descriptive statistics and Regression analysis were used to analyze the data. Statistical significance was assessed at α=0.05 levels. Results indicated that, socioeconomic factors had no significant effect on adoption of zero grazing (P>0.05).However, environmental factors such as water supply, fodder crops and access to open grazing fields had significant influence on adoption of zero grazing (P<0.000). Further, there was significant difference in adoption of the zero-grazing technology among the locations with more adopters in Upper Samia than Lower Samia (p<0.05). The study findings indicated that the farmers in the study area were not knowledgeable about the technology with 63.5 % having limited knowledge on zero grazing. In conclusion, the research found that adoption of zero grazing was influenced by level of knowledge, water supply, availability of fodder feeds and open grazing fields. Thus there is need for extension agents in the study area to carry out regular farm visits, field days, trainings and demonstrations, in order to make the farming community aware of the technology and to alleviate the perception farmers have towards the technology. Policies on livestock extension should be reviewed by the government to ensure that farmers receive the necessary services.

Background information
High population growth rate in Sub-Saharan Africa has resulted in subdivision of land into small holdings to accommodate an increasing number of farmers (Makokha et al., 2007). This is the case in the densely populated areas of western Province, where the area of agricultural land per capita is small and declining and inadequate for the production of arable and cash crops as well as forage for livestock grazing. As a result, more intensive production systems that can ensure food security while conserving the natural resource base have to be adopted.

Zero grazing technology was introduced in Kenya by the colonialists as a means to improve milk production (Bebe et al., 2003). This technology is more environmentally friendly than the free range grazing method that is commonly practiced in Samia Sub-County. It brings higher economic growth and overcome the law of diminishing returns from the existing resources, by shifting production upwards (more returns per unit area of land) (Omore, 1999). However, adoption of any agricultural technology is seen to be influenced by: complexity of the technology, the immediate outcome or financial returns of the adoption, costs, farmer’s beliefs and opinions towards the technology, farmer’s level of motivation, farmer’s perception about the relevance of the technology and farmer’s perception about risk and change and social cultural issues. Other factors that influence the adoption include: farm size, farmer’s education level and prevailing environmental conditions (Mpanya, 1985; Pandey and Lapar, 1985; Cramb, 1998; Guerin and Guerin, 1994; Okoeda and Onemolease, 2009). As farmers adopt new technologies, the element of sustainability has to be considered, since sustainability in livestock production systems centre’s on the need to develop technologies and practices that do not have adverse effect on the environment, that are accessible to and effective to farmers (Pretty, 2008). Site specific studies on adoption are necessary because some innovations differ across socio- economic groups, over time and under different environmental conditions (Cramb, 2000). Hence this study focused on factors influencing adoption of zero grazing in Samia Sub-County in Busia County, Kenya.

Zero gazing (ZG) is a livestock production system that involves confining cattle in stalls and developing cut-carry-feed system (Bebe et al., 2003). The system has an advantage of being able to replenish soil fertility necessary for crop production by producing manure. In addition, the fodder crops planted on the farm such as Sesbania sesban, Calliandra calothyrsus, Acacia spp, Leucaena diversifolia, Chamaecistus palmensis and Gliricidea spp contribute to environmental conservation by contributing to the tree cover. Zero grazing enables farmers to collect the dung and use it for biogas production or compost it to form manure. The use of biogas eases the burden on fuel wood and thus contributes to environmental conservation as the tree cover is not destroyed. Composting if well done and managed reduces non point sources of organic carbon into the water ways thus controlling water pollution. By composting nutrients are easily absorbed in the soil, enhancing soil structure and prevent soil erosion (Ojiem et al., 1998). Another advantage of ZG as a technology is that animals are made to drink from watering troughs, thus minimizing pollution of water sources by direct drinking. This technology can therefore address the constraints of land insufficiency, low productivity of dairy cows, low quality fodder, prevalence of diseases, low income and environmental conservation issues (Makokha, 2007).

Despite being labor-intensive, ZG has been practiced in western Kenya over time. This has been attributed to lack of grazing land, demand for milk, availability of high-yielding fodder varieties, availability of artificial insemination services, and improvements in the supply of foundation stock, veterinary services, market opportunities and new breeding technologies (Amadalo, 2003). However, even with all these facilitative factors, the adoption of Zero grazing technology has not been very successful in Samia Sub-County. Yet, with the population growth rate estimated at 3.2% in Samia sub-county (GoK, 2010; CBS, 2010), people are finding it difficult to manage the critical trade-offs between sustainable resource use and immediate short-term needs. As a result, there is need to adopt more intensive production systems such as ZG that will increase food production with less detrimental impact on the environment. Samia Sub-County is inhabited by some of the poorest people in Kenya with a poverty index of 68% (GOK, 2010; CBS, 2001). The area is faced with low income from the existing farming enterprises and registers low levels of dairy development. This is in spite of indications that there is a potential for dairy development, and that dairy can reduce the level of poverty. Low dairy development in Samia Sub-County is evident on the basis that it is a milk deficit area (GoK, 2010), and that private traders get milk from Nandi and Uganda to sell to people in Samia.

Livestock production sector has a potential for increased employment and income generation if appropriate technologies such as ZG, proper management, improved infrastructure, inputs access and efficient marketing (Mugunieri and Omiti, 2008) are applied since livestock sector play a role in poverty reduction (ERS, 2007; NDP, 2007). The economic recovery strategy, therefore, demands for broad based livestock production programmes to improve welfare of livestock producers.

There are several categories of livestock production systems in western Kenya, which include: free range or tethered, semi-zero grazing (a mixture of free range and some stall-feeding) and stall-feeding (zero-grazing) based on availability of pasture and forage (Waithaka, 2000). In intensive dairy cattle production systems (zero-grazing) involves feeding cattle on Napier grass (Pennisetum purpureum) as the main feed resource. While in extensive dairy cattle production systems (free range and semi-zero grazing), animals are mainly grazed on natural pastures (Waithaka et al., 2002). It is from this characterization that this study focused on establishing the factors behind the slow adoption of zero grazing technology in Samia Sub-County.

Statement of the problem
Although the government has put in place measures to encourage farmers to adopt zero grazing, such as, privatization of Artificial Insemination services, availability of extension and veterinary services, policies on livestock feed formulation, foundation stocks and new breeding technologies, the rate of adoption has remained very low in Samia Sub -County, with less than 100 farmers practicing zero grazing. There is milk deficit in the Sub-County and much of the milk consumed is obtained from Uganda or Nandi County. Furthermore, most farmers still keep large herds of indigenous livestock using the free range method of production. Although the zero grazing technology is economically feasible, it is not understood why farmers in this area are not adopting it. The reasons for the slow adoption of the zero grazing technology by farmers in Samia Sub-County are not well understood and thus the basis for this study.

Broad objective
The main objective of the study was to assess the socio-economic and physical environmental factors affecting adoption of zero grazing technology in Samia Sub-County with a view of improving food security through increased milk production in the area while enhancing environmental conservation.

Specific objectives
1. To examine farmers’ level of knowledge on Zero grazing in Samia Sub-County

2. To establish the adoption pattern of Zero grazing technology in the study area based on ecological zones.

3. To determine the influence of socio-economic factors on the adoption of Zero grazing technology among farmers in the study area.

4. To establish the effect of physical environmental factors on the adoption of Zero grazing technology among farmers in the study area.

Research questions
1. What is the farmers’ level of knowledge on Zero grazing in Samia Sub-County?

2. Is there a significant difference in the adoption pattern of zero grazing technology in the study area based on ecological zones?

3. What is the influence of socio-economic factors on the adoption of Zero grazing technology by livestock farmers in Samia Sub-County?

4. What is the effect of environmental factors on the adoption of Zero grazing technology by livestock farmers in Samia Sub-County?

Justification of the study
Farmers in Samia Sub-County practice various livestock production systems ranging from road side grazing; tethering, communal grazing to semi zero grazing. The latter is the least practiced system. The continued high dependence on off farm production systems are unsustainable and negatively affect the environment in terms of rapid surface water runoffs and soil erosion as a result of overgrazing. Management of animal waste is rendered impossible and thus grazing fields become non-point sources of organic carbon from manure and other nutrient loading to water sources such as nitrogen. Furthermore, free grazing animals are allowed to drink directly from rivers and springs leading to pollution of these water sources. Most farmers in the Sub- County keep at least five heads of indigenous cattle per household that are low yielders in terms of milk production, and have negative impact on the environment in terms of overgrazing and waste management. In contrast, zero grazing of dairy animals would improve production per unit area and per animal, and with proper waste management reduce non-point source of pollution. Zero grazing of dairy cattle and goats would also encourage farmers to grow fodder crops that will contribute to improved agro-forestry practices in the study area. The accumulated waste can be used for biogas production and thus reduce deforestation and associated release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. It was against this backdrop that this study was conceived to bring out an understanding of the factors that contribute to the low adoption of zero grazing technology in the Sub-County, contributing to the knowledge gap.

Scope of the study
This study was limited to Samia Sub-County, Busia County, Kenya. The Sub-County has one division, and seven locations. The seven locations of the Sub-County are: Bwiri, Agenga and Nanguba and Nangosia in Lower Samia and Odiado, Namboboto and Nambukua in Upper Samia. The study focused on the socio-economic and physical environmental factors that influence the adoption of zero grazing among the farmers in the Sub-County. The socioeconomic factors included: farm size, family income, and household head, Level of education, farmers perceptions on the ZG, age, and acreage. The physical environmental: factors are: water availability, parasites and diseases, soil fertility and rainfall. The pattern of adoption of ZG technology was determined based on ecological zones.

Assumptions of the study
The study assumed that:
1. The household heads would be available during the entire period of study to respond to the questions.

2. The respondents would be willing to participate in the study by providing accurate information.

Limitations of the study
The varying terrain and lack of public transport in some areas was a limiting factor. This limitation was overcome by use of the motor cycle which is a flexible means of transport in all terrains. Lack of climate data especially temperature data limited the analysis on contribution of climatic factors on adoption of Zero grazing.

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Item Type: Kenyan Topic  |  Size: 65 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
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