Farmer Perceptions on Vegetable Diseases and Their Control in Sub-Humid Areas in Zimbabwe

Maria Goss 1 , Paramu. L. Mafongoya 2 , Augustine Gubba 2  and Obert Jiri 3
  • 1 School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, University of Zimbabwe, Faculty of Agriculture, 3209, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
  • 2 School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, 3209, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
  • 3 University of Zimbabwe, Faculty of Agriculture, Harare, Zimbabwe

Abstract

The monoculture vegetable production systems practiced by Zimbabwean farmers has resulted in major disease outbreaks, causing major production constraints. There is need to determine the intensity of pesticides usage and methods of alternative disease management strategies. This study was carried out using 250 randomly selected vegetable farmers by administering questionnaires. The study objectives were to determine farmers’ perceptions on vegetable disease incidence and severity in relation to prevailing weather conditions, and determine common control methods practiced to manage fungal and bacterial disease outbreaks. The results indicated significant increases in fungal and bacterial disease incidence of 84.6% (within community cropping fields) and severity of 73.1% (within individual farmer fields) over the past 5-10 years (P £ 0.05). It also revealed disease incidence being highest [30.8%] during winter (May – July) and rainy months [23.1%] (November – February). Results further indicated 96.2% of the respondents relied on chemical methods, 53.8% used cultural control, and 11.5% used natural control methods. However, none of the farmers used bio-pesticide/biological control methods. In conclusion: farmers are aware of the disease shifts in response to different climate variability but seem unaware of the negative effects of extensive chemical use, nor existence of alternative bio-pesticide/biological disease management strategies.

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