INVESTIGATING VIABILITY OF PREMIUM INFLUENCED LAND USE STRUCTURE USING COST BENEFIT ANALYSIS IN PRODUCTION OF QUALITY INDIGENOUS VEGETABLEs ON SMALLHOLDER CONDITIONS IN VIHIGA –KENYA AND JINJA-UGANDA
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Abstract

Raised bed gardening is a form of land use structure that is becoming popular among home vegetable growers preferred in parts of the world with greater population densities or less tillable land. This is because they are ideal for maximizing use of land as they concentrate more crops per unit piece of land compared to long single row gardens. Raised gardens can therefore be used in the production of vegetables.  It nonetheless remains unclear as to whether this technology is being used in Vihiga district where land holdings are considered below the FAO recommendations for subsistence of 0.4 ha/household. The overall objective of this study was toinvestigate the viability of premium influenced land use structures in line with a premium implied cropping for a prospective premium product development. This was achieved by pursuing the following specific objectives: identifying the prevailing land use in a smallholder cultivation system, introducingand evaluating the cost benefits of a raised bed planting system as a land use structure and determining the adaptation and quality of the test vegetables. Observations to identify various land use practices were done on 76 households. A general characterization of the farmers land into reference points of near portion, medium portion and far portion was done on the consideration of how close the portion was to the homestead. Where near portion was an area found near the homestead, medium portion was the mid part and far portion was a piece of land located at the end of the land. A Z design was adopted to refer to these reference points. Crops grown in these reference points were identified and recorded. Data was analyzed using SPSS version 14 and frequency of crop occurrence drawn in table like formats.The near house portion indicated high crop diversity with a frequency of 490 which was equivalent to 50.7%. The mid-farm portion ranked second in crop diversity with a frequency of 288 which was equal to 29.8%. The far-farm portion had the lowest crop diversity with a frequency of 188 which equated to 19.5%.

A total number of 40 smallholder women farmers were identified; 20 from Vihiga and 20 from Buwenda in Uganda. They were then put into groups of five each and in each group 1 farmer was selected  bringing to 10 the total number of farmers; five from Vihiga and five from Buwenda on whose farms raised bed plots were established. Indigenous leafy plants (14 species) were then planted in these plots. Each of the raised beds had three replicates making a total of 30 replicates.  These plots were referred to as Premium Influenced Land Use structures.  Weekly monitoring of the plots was done using leafy area indicators including like vigour. Yield was also taken. The leafy materials were sampled in each replicate, dried, grounded and subjected to high energy dispersive x-rays to determine the micronutrient content. A cost benefit analysis to determine the viability of raised bed gardening was done. Data was analysed using Genstat. Results showed that crops grown in raised beds emerged earlier, were more vigorous and had higher leaf and grain yields than crops grown in conventional beds.  Crops grown in raised beds had a higher nutrient concentration than crops grown in conventional beds. These findings show that raised bed gardening can lead to improved productivity and nutrient quality of indigenous vegetables.