African Journal of
Agricultural Research

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Agric. Res.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1991-637X
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJAR
  • Start Year: 2006
  • Published Articles: 6863

Full Length Research Paper

Troubled agronomy: Exploring challenges affecting oil palm production among indigenous rural farmers in Karonga district, Malawi

Noel Mweta
  • Noel Mweta
  • Malawi University of Science and Technology, Department of Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Practices, Thyolo, Malawi.
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Alex Somuah-Obeng
  • Alex Somuah-Obeng
  • University of Cape Coast, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Cape Coast, Ghana.
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John Windie Ansah
  • John Windie Ansah
  • University of Cape Coast, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Cape Coast, Ghana.
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  •  Received: 09 May 2024
  •  Accepted: 31 May 2024
  •  Published: 31 July 2024

Abstract

Agriculture remains fundamental in addressing socio-economic challenges in developing countries including Malawi. Through agriculture, oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) production has been essential as source of food, creation of job opportunities, income generation, hence offering potential pathways for reducing rural poverty. In Malawi, oil palm production is an old tradition practiced by the Nyakyusa people, residing in Karonga District. Despite these indigenes being involved in oil palm production, the growth of this agricultural activity has been stagnant. Using sequential explanatory design with triangulated data collected by means of questionnaire, in-depth interviews and focus group discussions, researchers explored challenges confronting oil palm production among indigenous rural farmers in Karonga District. Measures of frequency, crosstabulation and correlation were used to analyse quantitative data. Interpretive phenomenological analysis was used to analyse qualitative data. Researchers used sample size of 477, and found that farmers, constituting 61.0% have limited market access; 52.4% limited farm equipment and machinery; 79.9% limited access to credit; and 67.1% limited information, posing significant barrier to the growth of this agricultural activity. Researchers recommended that the Malawi Ministry of Agriculture should collaborate with other stakeholders in the agriculture sector and establish local markets; provide access to technology and machinery, loans and finance through government interventions and private sector partnerships; and provide extension services to address information gap.

Key words: Oil palm, oil palm production, indigenous rural farmers, poverty, agriculture.