Majority of farmers willing to pay for plant health advice, new research shows
The majority of farmers surveyed in Bangladesh, Rwanda and Zambia are willing to pay for visits to CABI-led Plantwise plant clinics, which help diagnose potentially devastating pests and diseases in crops and ways to reduce the impact on yields.
An international team of experts led by Adewale Ogunmodede, Junior Agricultural Economist, based in the center of CABI in Egham, UK, found that 64% of farmers surveyed are willing to pay an amount sufficient to cover the operational costs of factory clinics. cover. This is so that they can continue to receive advice to help increase their yields and livelihoods.
The researchers, including those from the CABI center in Switzerland; Cranfield University, UK; the University of Ibadan and Olabisi Onabanjo University, both in Nigeria, have been informed that farmers are willing to pay USD 0.27, USD 0.85 and USD 2.225 per visit, respectively.
Data was obtained from 602, 637 and 837 households between 2018 and 2019 in Bangladesh, Rwanda and Zambia. Farmers who had previously visited a plant clinic were examined and the main pests were fruit flies on pumpkin in Bangladesh and trap armyworms (Spodoptera frugiperda) on maize in Rwanda and Zambia.
The researchers, whose research is published in the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainabilityalso learned that only a few farmers – ranging from about 1% in Rwanda to 16% in Zambia – were unwilling to contribute financially to making the plant clinics more sustainable.
The plant clinic extension approach is part of the global Plantwise program managed by CABI and supports smallholder farmers by providing farmers with personalized crop pest diagnosis and management advice.
The first plant clinic opened in Bolivia in 2003 and then spread to 35 developing countries where about 5,000 plant clinics have been established to provide free pest diagnostic and advisory services.
There are currently 30 factory clinics and more than 200 factory doctors in Bangladesh, 66 factory clinics in Rwanda with 350 factory doctors and 121 factory clinics and 350 factory doctors in Zambia.
Mr Ogunmodede said: “External funders are now paying for the factory clinic’s operations, which raises concerns about their long-term viability if funding stops.
“These findings imply that farmers value the services of plant clinics and are inclined to contribute financially to their sustainability. It would be helpful to run a trial of paid plant clinics to measure farmers’ real willingness to pay.
“Our findings also suggest that in some contexts more educated and wealthier farmers, as well as farmers’ association members, may be targeted to pay the true cost per user for maintaining the factory clinic’s services.”
The scientists also suggest that poor and elderly households could pay subsidized fees so as not to be excluded from fee-based plant clinic services.
dr. Justice Tambo, co-author and socio-economist at CABI’s center in Switzerland, said: “Future research would be worthwhile examining farmers’ most preferred payment methods, encouraging more farmers to participate in the payment system.
“For example, Cartmell has reported that in Latin America, the sustainability of plant clinics can be achieved by paying fees to farmers’ associations that provide plant clinic services.”
The researchers conclude that their willingness to pay estimates only cover the costs of running factory clinics already established. They suggest that financial commitments from state or local implementing organizations would be needed to cover the costs associated with setting up the plant clinics.
This includes training of factory clinic staff, data management and the purchase of clinic equipment, such as portable microscopes or hand-lens tablets, and tents.
One approach, the scientists say, to cover initial start-up costs and contribute to the sustainability of plant clinics would be to integrate this expansion model into national or local government agricultural policies or education strategies.
Plantwise plant clinics help promote sustainable crop protection in Rwanda and Zambia
Adewale M. Ogunmodede et al, Farmers’ Willingness to Pay for Plant Clinic Sustainability: Evidence from Bangladesh, Rwanda and Zambia, International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability (2022). DOI: 10.1080/14735903.2022.2082018
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