A study was conducted in the high and low rainfall zones in the banana-based farming system in Bukoba district, Tanzania, to explore the variability among household characteristics and farm productivity. Approaches used included a participatory rural appraisal, rapid system characterization, surveys and detailed farm monitoring in two villages, one from each zone in 2005 through 2006. Based on a wealth-ranking, four household resource groups with decreasing wealth were identified: Resource group 1 > Resource group 2 > Resource group 3 > Resource group 4, distinguished by domestic assets, livestock ownership and labour relations. Through principal component analysis using additional variables defined by research team, three Functional Resource Groups from among the four Resource groups at each rainfall zone were identified distinguished by: soil fertility management, food security and farm and off-farm income as important indicators of variability. Further detailed monitoring over 14 months (from March, 2006 through May, 2007) in at least three households from each functional resource group showed that N, P and K balances among land use types and farms were driven by levels of organic inputs used and were also related to wealth and dependence on off-farm activities. However, all households were net food buyers, implying food insecurity. In addition, off-farm activities and off-farm income were important livelihood survival strategies.
Key words: Wealth ranking, principal components analysis, household characterization, participatory rural appraisal, farm productivity.
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