In spite of several strategies implemented to improve sorghum production in Ghana, average grain yield in farmers’ fields remains low and far below the estimated potential. The development of effective strategies requires continuous, in-depth understanding of production constraints as well as farmer preferences for crop traits. To this end, a participatory rural appraisal using focus group discussions, interviews with semi-structured questionnaires and preference ranking participatory rural appraisal was carried out among 122 smallholder sorghum farmers in the Upper East Region of Ghana. Majority (91%) of respondents were engaged in farming with more than half of their farm sizes allocated to sorghum cultivation. Drought, high cost of farm inputs and declining soil fertility were the top three constraints. Almost 42% of farmers described their soils as low in fertility. The most preferred traits by farmers were drought tolerance, high grain yield, earliness, grain quality as well as low fertilizer requirement. A better understanding of the perceptions of farmers and factors that limit the adoption of improved technology is important to guide policy towards the design of effective crop improvement and extension programmes. The study highlights the importance of breeding sorghum varieties with traits preferred by smallholder farmers that will lead to increased adoption of improved technology.
Keywords: Sorghum bicolor, participatory rural appraisal, smallholder farmers, perception, production constraints, farmer-preferred traits.