Measuring household legume cultivation intensity in Sub-Saharan Africa

AP Barnes, Tarirai Muoni, Ingrid Öborn, Göran Bergkvist, G Nziguheba, CA Watson, B Vanlauwe

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Legumes form part of an ecological-based solution to intensification in areas with limited access to external inputs. Despite a number of decades of intervention, uptake of legumes has been slow within smallholder farming systems in sub-Saharan Africa. We explore the drivers behind the adoption of legumes by developing an indicator of household legume cultivation (HLC) from a bespoke survey of small-scale farm households in Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. A beta regression framework identifies the range of intensities across sites and farms, indicating a limited influence of agro-ecological zones and formal institutions on uptake. Age, income and gender have positive but very marginal effects. Intensive legume cultivations were less driven by commercial growth objectives or access to market oppourtunities indicating lack of legume markets to incentivize production. There was little interest in expanding farm area, which reflects the lack of assets available to these farmers and leads to the use of legumes for providing home nutrition, or supporting farm fertility and livestock feed. Further development of this HLC metric would be enabled by consistent data gathering across regions, or at least equally detailed studies of legume uptake.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-334
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Agricultural Sustainability
Issue number3-4
Early online date10 Apr 2021
Publication statusFirst published - 10 Apr 2021


  • Legume adoption
  • beta regression
  • ecological intensification
  • sub-Saharan Africa


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