Preconditions for and barriers to use of organic agricultural methods in Uganda : exploring farmers' perspectives through the Theory of Planned Behavior
Abstract: Organic agriculture has been promoted as a promising alternative to improve food security and increase incomes for smallholder farmers in developing countries. Uganda is one of the countries where organic is being promoted, but in relation to the total size of the agricultural sector, the number of organic farmers in the country is still low. Little is known about why, or why not, Ugandan farmers use organic methods. This thesis aims at closing this knowledge gap by exploring the preconditions and barriers Ugandan farmers see to the use of organic methods for soil fertility management and crop protection, and discuss possibilities and constraints to an expanded use. The theory of planned behavior (Ajzen, 1991) was used as a model to explore farmers’ intentions to use organic methods and control factors affecting them. Semi-structured interviews were carried out in Rakai and Luweero districts in Uganda’s central region with a total of 45 organic and 36 conventional farmers. Farmers in Uganda use many different methods to manage soil fertility and crop protection. Organic methods are used also by conventional farmers, but they combine them with artificial inputs. Both organic and conventional farmers saw many advantages and disadvantages with both organic and conventional methods. Findings from the study support the theory of planned behavior in that behavioral intentions to use organic methods are influenced by attitude, social pressure and level of perceived behavioral control. Farmers with intentions to use organic methods can be hindered by low amount of actual control over the behavior. Attitudes originating from behavioral beliefs about profitability, together with perceived behavioral control i.e. the perception of how easy or difficult it will be to successfully carry out the behavior, seemed to be the most important influencers over farmers’ intentions whether or not to use organic methods. Perceived social pressure from important others, e.g. extension workers and export companies also influenced the farmers’ intentions. Regardless of intentions, the decisive factor affecting many of these farmers was the amount of actual control they had. Availability and affordability of both artificial and organic inputs, and of labor, highly affected which methods the farmers ended up using. Many conventional farmers expressed a wish to use only organic methods, but saw things stopping them from this. Removal of these barriers is an opportunity to expand the use of organic methods in Uganda. Most organic farmers would like to continue to use organic methods; and this positive attitude is the most important precondition for use of organic methods. However, some of these organic farmers saw issues that might force them to change to conventional methods and artificial inputs. These issues were in general the same as what was seen as barriers to the use of organic methods by the conventional farmers; lack of organic material, lack of labor, lack of knowledge, and lack of profit due to markets that do not distinguish between organic and conventional products. It is therefore important to address these to create an enabling environment for use of organic methods in Uganda. This thesis contributes with a better understanding of why, or why not, Ugandan farmers use organic methods, and the preconditions for, and barriers to, use of organic methods that exist today. These findings form a basis from which further research deeper into aspects of the subject could be built.
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