Assessing farmers' attitudes to, and the behavioural costs of, organic fertiliser practices in northern Ghana : An application of the behavioural cost approach

The use of organic fertiliser to improve soil health is crucial to halting the downward trend of crop yields in sub-Saharan Africa. If this goal is to be achieved, however, farmers require support to adopt organic fertiliser practices that match their attitudes and decision-making capacity. This study evaluated farmers' attitudes to a set of prevailing organic fertiliser practices and their associated behavioural costs (difficulty). The explanatory Rasch model was applied to a set of primary data from 250 farming households in north-east Ghana. The results showed that the average attitude of farmers was much less than the difficulty estimate of an average organic fertiliser practice, although the practices generally showed a moderate difficulty. On average, farmers' attitudes matched just three of sixteen practices on the scale, with most (70 %) of the farmers showing very weak attitudes towards the input. Latent regression results revealed that the weak attitude levels were strongly related to key factors in the farmers' background, including education, resource endowment and access to extension services. Participation in determining policies on organic fertiliser use enhances farmers' knowledge and skills concerning use of the input. Hence, access to such policies can replace education for the less-educated majority of farmers. Thus, training programmes are proposed that develop the average farmer's capacity to adopt these practices in this area, especially the less difficult ones. Supporting farmers with the acquisition of animal-drawn vehicles can also facilitate uptake of the more difficult organic fertiliser practices and increase use of the input.


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