Not only the seed matters: Farmers’ perceptions of sources for banana planting materials in Uganda

Kilwinger, Fleur B.M.; Marimo, Pricilla; Rietveld, Anne M.; Almekinders, Conny J.M.; Dam, Ynte K. van


The adoption of improved seed and other planting material in developing countries shows mixed results despite their potential to increase agricultural productivity. To arrive at a better understanding of the observed adoption rates, a lot of research is focused on finding the cultivars and variety traits that are attractive to farmers. Given smallholder farmers’ seed sourcing practices are often influenced by social ties and cultural norms, it is also relevant to understand where and why farmers seek to acquire planting material. In this study, means-end chain analysis was applied to understand farmers’ perceptions of formal and informal sources of banana planting material. Means-end chain analysis allows respondents to select and verbalize their own constructs to evaluate a product or service. These personally relevant constructs are subsequently linked to their personal goals via laddering interviews. We interviewed 31 Ugandan banana farmers from Western and Central region. Farmers associated formal sources mainly with improved cultivars, tissue culture plantlets and low levels of diversity. Informal seed sources were mostly associated with traditional cultivars, suckers and high levels of diversity. The goals farmers pursued while acquiring planting material, such as financial gains, food security, and to sustain and develop the household, were fairly similar among different groups of farmers. The means through which farmers aimed and preferred to pursue these goals differed and could be related to aspects such as gender, production scale and production goals. These differences among farmers preferences for particular sources indicate that not only cultivar traits should be tailored to farmers’ preferences and needs, but also the characteristics of the sources from which farmers access planting material.