Farmers’ Perceptions of Finger Millet Production Constraints, Varietal Preferences and Their Implications to Finger Millet Breeding in Uganda

  •  Lawrence Owere    
  •  Pangirayi Tongoona    
  •  John Derera    
  •  Nelson Wanyera    


Finger millet is an important food security and cash crop in Uganda but its production is constrained by a number of factors. However, information on farmers’ perceptions of constraints and varietal preferences is limited. A study was conducted to; identify varieties and varietal preferences in finger millet, and assess farmers’ constraints to finger millet production and coping mechanisms. The study involved a participatory rural appraisal, and a survey. Farmers identified the major constraint as high labour requirements especially for weeding since over 95% of the farmers used broadcasting as a method of planting. Other constraints that occurred across all the districts were blast disease and low yielding cultivars. Farmers also reported to have developed some coping mechanisms to counter the constraints. In terms of preference for new cultivars, farmers preferred high grain yield, brown seed colour, compact head shape, tolerance to blast disease, high tillering ability, moderate plant height (1 ± 0.2 m), early maturity, tolerance to shattering and ease of threshing without compromising other preferred attributes. The study further revealed that a considerable proportion of the farmers had limited or no knowledge on finger millet blast disease, its causes and mechanisms of coping. Farmers also reported that blast disease symptoms in all locations were on the increase over the years and pointed out the most susceptible and tolerant cultivars. These findings therefore, present an urgent need for information sharing with farmers and other agricultural development partners, and continuous development of blast resistant cultivars with farmer preferred attributes.

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