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Farmer assessment of velvetbean as a green manure in Veracruz, Mexico : experimentation and expected profits

Author: Soule, M.J.
Year: 1996
ISSN: 1405-2830
Descriptors: Innovation adoption
Descriptors: Farmers
Descriptors: Maize
Descriptors: Zea mays
Abstract: This study explores factors associated with farmers' decision to experiment with velvetbean (Mucuna spp.), a green manure, as a maize intercrop in three villages of Veracruz, Mexico. To asses whether velvetbean might be adopted on a wide scale in the region, the study also examines variation in farmers' perceptions of profits achieved by using the velvetbean intercrop compared to the farmer's usual practice. A stratified random sample of 92 households was selected from three villages reflecting differing conditions in the study area. All farmers who participated in a velvetbean extension program in the previous year were included; a random sample was drawn of the remaining households in the villages. The analysis reveals that the current practice to which farmers compared the maize/velvetbean intercrop played an important role in the perceived profitability of the new technology. Farmers who used neither herbicides nor fertilizer perceived a much larger positive difference in expected profits than farmers who compared the velvetbean intercrop with maize production using fertilizer or herbicides or both. Farmers with opportunities to earn off-farm income were less likely to experiment with velvetbean. Thus velvetbean may be adoptable on a wide scale by poorer farmers with limited access to chemical inputs and off-farm employment. However, these conclusions should be qualified in several ways. First, this study did not account for the full costs of using modern chemicals. Second, since the study was conducted, falling maize prices, coupled with higher prices for chemical inputs and more restricted availability of credit, may have made the intercrop more attractive to farmers. Third, the study was conducted early in the technology dissemination process, and farmers' judgments are based on only limited experience with velvetbean. Future experimentation with velvetbean may develop a method that increases production and modifies labor needs so that velvetbean, or another green manure, becomes more acceptable to farmers. In addition, the use of a green manure in combination with inorganic fertilizer might prove acceptable to farmers and enhance the sustainability of maize production in ways that the use of chemical fertilizer alone could not do. It would also be useful if future research could assess whether using velvetbean as an intercrop is actually more sustainable than current practices or whether social benefits of wide-scale velvetbean adoption would be greater than social costs.
Language: English
Publisher: CIMMYT
Serie: CIMMYT NRG Paper
Copyright: CIMMYT manages Intellectual Assets as International Public Goods. The user is free to download, print, store and share this work. In case you want to translate or create any other derivative work and share or distribute such translation/derivative work, please contact indicating the work you want to use and the kind of use you intend; CIMMYT will contact you with the suitable license for that purpose.
Type: Book
Country: Mexico
Region: North America
Place: Mexico
Pages: v, 21 pages
Serie number: 97-02

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  • Socioeconomics
    Including topics such as farming systems, markets, impact & targeting, innovations, and GIS
  • Sustainable Intensification
    Sustainable intensification agriculture including topics on cropping systems, agronomy, soil, mechanization, precision agriculture, etc.

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