Measuring household legume cultivation intensity in Sub-Saharan Africa

Andrew P. Barnes, T. Muoni, I. Öborn, G. Bergkvist, G. Nziguheba, C. A. Watson, B. Vanlauwe, Alan Duncan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Legumes form part of an ecological based solution to intensification in areas with limited access to external inputs or to support increased efficiency of available fertiliser nutrients. Despite a number of decades of intervention, uptake of legumes has been slow within smallholder farming systems in Sub-Saharan Africa. This paper explores the drivers behind adoption of legumes by developing an indicator of household legume cultivation (HLC) from a bespoke survey of 274 small-scale farm households in Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

We decompose this indicator using a beta regression framework and find a range of intensities across sites and farms, indicating limited influence of agro-ecological zones and formal institutions on uptake. There was some commonality in drivers across sites, though age, income and gender have positive but very marginal effects. Farm households with more intense legume cultivation were less driven by commercial growth objectives and have limited access to markets. There was little interest in expanding farm area which reflects the lack of assets available to these farmers and, as a consequence, promotes the use of legumes in providing home nutrition, or supporting farm fertility and provision of livestock feed.

Further development of this HLC metric would be enabled by consistent data gathering across regions, or at least equally detailed studies of legume uptake. Overcoming constraints to increasing use of legumes should be a significant component of local and international agricultural intervention as countries experience increasing environmental and social pressures and the need to commercialise as farming develops.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Agricultural Sustainability
Publication statusPublished - 10 Apr 2021

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Legume adoption
  • ecological intensification
  • sub-Saharan Africa
  • beta regression


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