THE RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN SELECTED FACTORS AND FARMERS’ DEMAND FOR SERVICES FROM PLANT CLINICS IN NAKURU-NORTH SUB- COUNTY, KENYA

ABSTRACT
Plant clinics were introduced in Nakuru-North Sub-County in 2010 with the objective of improving farmers‟ access to crop protection extension services, subsequently reducing incidences of crop pests and diseases. The services are provided to the farmers on demand. Since their introduction, farmers‟ demand for the services has been low. Many farmers are therefore not benefiting from the services as it was intended. In order to understand the scenario and adopt policies that will ensure many farmers benefit from plant clinics services, it is crucial to establish the relationships between selected factors which are likely to determine farmers‟ demand for services from plant clinics, and farmers‟ demand for services from the plant clinics. The objective of this study was to establish the relationships between the selected factors; level of awareness of plant clinics, accessibility of plant clinics by farmers, farmers‟ perceptions of relevance of plant clinics, and farmers‟ perceptions of quality of services provided at the plant clinics. A Correlation study was conducted involving 152 farmers selected randomly from 6,000 small scale farmers in four out of the 12 locations of the Sub-County. A self-administered questionnaire was used to collect data from the farmers. Data was analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) for windows. Descriptive statistics was used to summarize and present the findings in frequency distribution, percentages, means and standard deviation. The relationships between independent and dependent variables was analyzed using Chi-square and interpreted at α=0.05 level of significance. The study established that there are statistically significant relationships between the farmers‟ level of awareness of plant clinics, accessibility to plant clinics by farmers and farmers‟ perceptions of quality of services provided at the plant clinics, and farmers‟ demand for services from plant clinics. This implies that the demand for services from plant clinics depends on these factors. The study concludes that the demand for services from plant clinics can be improved by improving the farmers‟ awareness of plant clinics, accessibility of plant clinics by farmers and farmers‟ perceptions of the quality of services provided at the plant clinics. The study recommends that financiers of plant clinics should allocate more resources to improve these factors.

CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
Background to the Study
One major contributory factor to low agricultural productivity in the world is crop losses due to pests and diseases problems (Julie, 2010). The global food security is threatened by the vulnerability of our agricultural systems to numerous pests, pathogens, weeds, and environmental stresses (Michelmore, et al., 2017). Apart from to low yields, infected plants negatively affect human and livestock health by contaminating food and feed resulting in diseases and disorders when consumed (Fink-Gremmels, 2008). Enhanced responsiveness to plant health threats also takes an added urgency and importance in a global context of emerging exotic diseases and unpredictable disease patterns induced by climate change and the increased mobility of people and goods (Danielsen & Matsiko, 2016). Any intervention towards improved global food security must therefore endeavor to improve plant health (Julie, 2010).

Timely issue of appropriate plant protection advisories is helpful in appropriate decision- making which may result in saving more crops, the environment and the beneficial organisms (Singh, Tanwar, et al., 2016). Good and timely diagnosis is also essential for management of further spread of pests to new areas and therefore issues that hinder plant doctors‟ access to quick, accurate diagnostic service must be identified and addressed (Mugambi, Williams, Muthomi, Chege, & Oronje, 2016). This calls for an effective crop protection extension method which ensures early and accurate diagnosis and surveillance of crop pests and diseases in order to predict outbreaks and allow time for development and application of appropriate mitigation measures (Miller, Beed and Harmon, 2009). Innovativeness is required in extension service delivery to make relevant information available to the millions of smallholders around the world who depend on their crops for household food security and income (Danielsen and Kelly, 2010).

Plant clinics are facilities where farmers take samples of their affected plants for problems identification and management recommendations (Koigi, 2013). They have been identified as an innovative agricultural extension service delivery method to help farmers deal with crop pests, diseases and other plant problems (Brubaker, Danielsen, Olupot, Romney and Ochatum, 2013). The plant clinics have been founded in many developing countries as a cost- effective way of providing plant protection advice to small-scale farmers who have limited access to consulting services (Ghiasi, Allahyari, Damalas, Azizi and Abedi, 2017). They were started by Global Plant Clinics (GPC) in the town of Comarapa, Bolivia, in the year 2000 (Bentley et al., 2011). Then they were spread to Bangladesh, Uganda and Nicaragua (Boa, 2009).Since 2003 the method has been piloted in several other developing countries as a way of providing regular, low cost plant health services to smallholder farmers who have limited access to advisory services (Danielsen and Kelly, 2010). In Kenya plant clinics were introduced in 2010. Nakuru-North is one of the pioneer Sub-Counties. It started with four plant clinics (Ministry of Agriculture Livestock and Fisheries (MOALF, 2012). Currently there are 134 plant clinics in 14 counties of Kenya (Scheidegger and Graf, 2013).

A basic plant clinic consists of a table, chairs, a banner or a prominent sign board for publicity. The plant clinics are held regularly in weekly or biweekly sessions of 2-3 hours in a prominent meeting place like a market center. The farmers are advised to take samples of any noted cases of crop pests or diseases infestation to the clinics for identification and advice (Koigi, 2013). The plant doctors undergo a standardized training programme and are provided with pests and diseases identification kits and reference materials that help them in making accurate diagnoses and giving effective recommendations to farmers (MOALF, 2012). When a farmer takes a sample to the plant clinic, he describes his problem/s to the „plant doctor‟. The „plant doctor‟ listens to the farmer and examines the sample to diagnose the problem before suggesting an affordable and available treatment. The „plant doctor‟ keeps records of the queries received and advice given to the farmers. Those records act as a source of information about prevalent pests and diseases. They are also used to monitor and improve the quality of diagnoses and recommendations given to farmers (Danielsen et al., 2013). Sometimes plant doctors have to send samples to a laboratory in the same way that a human doctor sends samples to a hospital laboratory. Plant clinics also link with other diagnostic laboratories around the world where need arises (Danielsen et al., 2013).

Plant clinics is a demand led service (Boa, Franco, Chaudhury, Simbalaya and Van Der Linde, 2016). Chipeta, Zellweger, Pesche, and Christoplos (2006) defines demand as what people need, ask for and value so much that they are willing to invest their resources such as time and money, in order to acquire it. According to Ali, Ahmad and Ali (2011), farmers demand and their need for advisory services are decisive factors in determining the effectiveness of extension services. Some factors are known to be related with farmer‟s reception of agricultural extension services and may therefore be related with farmers‟ demand for services from plant clinics as well. According to Danielsen, Frank, Emmanuel and Gabriel (2012), the demand for services or technologies are driven by awareness of the existence of these services or technologies. The Physical distance from the plant clinic may also determine how frequently a farmer attends plant clinics (Brubaker et al., 2013). The Farmers‟ perceptions as well determine the adoption of an innovation (Llewelly, Pannell, Lindner and Powles, 2005).

Early results of plant clinic implementation showed that plant clinics had the potential to enhance the outreach of agricultural extension, capture demand and improve disease vigilance (Danielsen, Matsiko, Mutebi and Karubanga, 2012). However the current scenario is that the available diagnostic facilities are often under-utilized (Danielsen and Kelly, 2010). The demand for services from the plant clinics is low with most subsistence level farmers often overlooking their plant health problems while commercial farmers make some inquiries and seek information about their problems (Raj-Kumar, 2009). At the same time many farmers identify plant health problems by their symptoms and not by their causes, many of which are not easily visible (Boa, 2008). Consequently they only go for plant diseases control when it is too late or never at all. According to a plant clinics progress report from Nakuru- North Sub-County Agriculture Office, (2013), low farmers turn out during plant clinic sessions have been the major challenge facing their implementation. The average farmers‟ turnout during plant clinic sessions in the Sub-County stands at three to four farmers per plant clinic session (Nakuru-North Sub-County Agriculture Office, 2013). This is low compared to farmers‟ turnout during conventional extension methods such as demonstrations and information desks which stands at 15 to 25 farmers per session.

In order to understand the scenario and adopt policies that will ensure many farmers benefit from plant clinics services, knowledge of the relationships between selected factors which are likely to determine farmers‟ demand for services from plant clinics, and the demand is crucial. The study was conducted in Nakuru-North Sub-County to establish these relationships. The selected factors are farmers‟ level of awareness of plant clinics, accessibility of plant clinics by farmers, farmers‟ perceptions of relevance of plant clinics, and farmers‟ perceptions of quality of services provided at the plant clinics. The Sub-County was selected since it was among the first Sub-Counties to implement plant clinics in the country (MOALF), 2012), and has implemented them for a longer period of time. In addition the Sub-County has a high agricultural potential with many small scale farmers which make it possible to get a large sample of farmers for the study.

Statement of the Problem
Plant clinics were introduced in Nakuru-North Sub-County in 2010 by Commonwealth Agriculture Bureaux International (CABI) and the Ministry of Agriculture as an appropriate extension method that would improve farmers‟ access to crop protection extension services, subsequently reducing incidences of crop pests and diseases. Their services are provided to farmers on demand. Since their introduction, farmers‟ demand for the services has been low. Many farmers are therefore not benefiting from these services as it was intended despite of crop pests and diseases incidences being still high in the Sub-County. In order to understand the scenario and adopt policies that will ensure many farmers benefit from plant clinics services, it is crucial to establish relationships between selected factors which are likely to determine the farmers‟ demand for services from plant clinics, and the demand. It was therefore necessary to carry out this study to establish these relationships.

The study sought to establish relationships between selected factors and farmers‟ demand for services from plant clinics in Nakuru-North Sub-County. The information can help agriculture extension policy makers and institutions running plant clinics to adopt strategies that will ensure more farmers demand and access services from plant clinics. This would improve farmers‟ capacity to deal with their crop health problems and thereby improving their farm yields and incomes.

Purpose of the Study
The purpose of the study was to establish the relationships between selected factors and farmers‟ demand for services from plant clinics in Nakuru-North Sub-county.

The Objectives of the Study
The objectives of the study were:

i. To establish the relationship between farmer‟s level of awareness of plant clinics and demand for services from plant clinics in Nakuru-North Sub-County.

ii. To establish the relationship between accessibility of plant clinics by farmers and demand for services from plant clinics in Nakuru-North Sub-County.

iii. To establish the relationship between farmers‟ perception of relevance of plant clinics and demand for services from plant clinics in Nakuru-North Sub-County.

iv. To establish the relationship between farmers‟ perception of quality of services provided at the plant clinics and demand for services from plant clinics in Nakuru- North Sub-County.

1.4 Hypotheses
The following Null Hypotheses were used in the study:

HO1: There is no statistically significant relationship between farmers‟ level of awareness of plant clinics and demand for services from plant clinics in Nakuru-North Sub- County.

HO2: There is no statistically significant relationship between accessibility of plant clinics by farmers and demand for services from plant clinics in Nakuru-North Sub-County.

HO3: There is no statistically significant relationship between farmers‟ perception of plant clinics and demand for services from plant clinics in Nakuru-North Sub-County.

HO4: There is no statistically significant relationship between farmers‟ perception of quality of services provided at the plant clinics and demand for services from plant clinics in Nakuru-North Sub-County.

Significance of the Study
The findings of the study may help extension policy makers in developing more informed strategies related to agriculture extension and especially in relation to crop protection extension. Knowledge of the relationships between the selected factors and farmers‟ demand for services from the plant clinics can help the implementers of plant clinics to know the areas which need to be focused in order to attract a higher farmers‟ demand for plant clinic services. This would result in more farmers accessing crop protection information and the consequent reduction of crop pests and diseases incidences. With more farmers advised on crop protection there would be higher crop yields and therefore improved food security as well as increased farm incomes. The study data generated by the study may provide evidence for determining the efficacy of plant clinics extension method in addressing plant health problems.

Scope of the Study
The study sought to establish the relationships between selected factors and farmers‟ demand for services from plant clinics in Nakuru-North Sub-County. Focus was on those factors related to the farmers and those related to plant clinics. It was carried out in Nakuru-North Sub-County but specifically confined to Bahati, Kabatini, Dundori and Githioro Locations of the Sub-County. It involved small scale farmers from the study area who are the target clients of plant clinics extension method.

Assumptions of the Study
The study made the following assumptions

i) All respondents gave truthful information.

ii) The small scale farmers‟ farm situations and agricultural practices in all the study area are generally the same.

iii) The farmers‟ characteristics in all the study area are the same as those in other parts of the Sub-Country.

Limitations of the Study
i) The study did not cover all the locations of Nakuru-North Sub-County that are operating plant clinics due to financial and time implications.

ii) The study did not cover all the possible factors as this would have made the questionnaire to long and thereby compromising the quality of the study.

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Item Type: Kenyan Material  |  Attribute: 66 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Price: KSh900  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.
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