Effectiveness of group extension methods in promoting high quality cassava flour production among smallholder farmers in Apac district, Uganda
Smallholder farmers of Apac District received advice from extension agents on the production of high quality cassava flour from 2009 to 2015. Despite training, production remained low at 4000kg ha·1 compared to the expected output of 8000kg ha· 1 , which called for an investigation conceived to establish the effectiveness of the group extension methods used in training for high output. A cross sectional survey design was used. Interviews, questionnaires, observations and focused group discussions were used to collect data from a total of 133 respondents consisting of 126 farmers randomly selected from 185 farmers trained. Additionally, seven extension agents completed questionnaires and were interviewed. Using SPSS version 16.0, the data collected was processed to determine frequencies, percentages, cross tabulations and chi-square test. Results show 64% of the famers participated in demonstrations, 73% in field days and 75% in exchange visits. Cross tabulations showed that demonstrations benefited 59% of the farmers in using clean water for processing; field days benefited 65% of the farmers in practicing timely harvesting and exchange visits benefited only 19% in using recommended varieties at planting. The framers whose flour was rejected at sale were: 20% for lack of follow up after training, 14% for reduced training hours and 13% for high speed content delivery. Chi-square showed significant association at O.Ola between farmers participation in demonstrations and knowledge in site selection for cassava production. Most farmers acquired more knowledge from group demonstrations, followed by field days and exchange visits respectively. Methods were effective in practices such as site selection, timely harvesting, use of clean water but not effective in post-harvest handling. Trainers of farmers should keep group size to 6 while combining methods for chipping and post-harvest handling. Time duration and frequency of training should be optimum farmers to produce high quality cassava flour.