Assessment of Cultivation Practices of Wheat and Knowledge of Russian Wheat Aphid (Diuraphis Noxia), in Mokhotlong and Thaba Tseka Districts of Lesotho (Published)
Mokhotlong and Thaba Tseka districts are major wheat producing areas in Lesotho. However, wheat yield has been declining over the past years. The purpose of this study was to investigate farmers’ cultivation practices, knowledge and management of Russian wheat aphid as possible factors for the low yields of wheat, and the capacity of extension staff in assisting the farmers in wheat production in Mokhotlong and Thaba Tseka districts, Lesotho. Three focus group discussions organized with the help of local chiefs and extension staff members were conducted to collect qualitative data which was used to formulate structured questionnaires for the interview schedule. A total of 60 farmers and 31 extension staff were interviewed. Three factors were found to be the major determinants of low yields; farmers’ continued use of traditional cultivation methods, the use of recycled seed from a variety (Bolane) that was introduced in the early 60s in Lesotho and farmers and extension staff ignorance on the existence and impact of Russian wheat aphid in Mokhotlong and Thaba Tseka. The study recommend that research on Russian wheat aphid distribution, impact and resistance status of Bolane must be undertaken and the Ministry of Agriculture should capacitate extension staff and farmers though training and resource allocation to adopt improved cultivation practices.
Keywords: Bolane, Extension Staff, Farmers, Mokhotlong, Russian Wheat Aphid, Thaba Tseka