MARKET ACCEPTANCE AND WILLINGNESS TO PAY FOR DRONE TECHNOLOGY IN THE APPLICATION OF PESTICIDE FOR THE CONTROL OF FALL ARMYWORM
In Ghana, maize is one of the major staple food crops. Since 2016, it has been plagued by fall armyworm, leaving production capacity below the national average. The introduction of drone technology was to assist farmers to reduce havoc caused by the fall armyworm. The majority of research done in the area of drone technology has focused on the technical and mechanical aspects. This gap gives rise to this study, as the study seeks to; find out the socioeconomic characteristics of maize farmers in the study area, their preferred option for the control of fall armyworm, the total effect of the field application of drone technology in spraying of pesticide, Economic efficiency of the experimental and control plots, willingness to pay and market acceptance of drone technology. The study adopted a quantitative research approach and a cross-sectional survey design to ascertain the interplay of variables. The research made use of a multi-stage sampling technique to obtain the desired sample of 152 out of a population of 350. The research used a questionnaire as the data collection tool. The data was then analysis using descriptive statistics, Friedman rank test and the Wilcoxon sign rank test, enterprise analysis, binary logistic regression and ordered logistic regression. The results of the study revealed that majority of the respondent was young and male-dominated. Respondent had 1-15 years of farming experience with more than half having no formal education. Most respondents were married but few were members of farmer based organisations and had small farmland. Household size was mostly 0-29 members as access to information, credit, input and extension services were lacking. On the preferred option of fall armyworm control, it was revealed that the majority of the respondent used synthetic pesticides for the control of fall armyworm. Again, on the total field effect, it showed that knapsack was preferred to drone technology on social and financial bases. `Whiles, on the economic efficiency, it was revealed that the cost of the drone technology plot was high relative to that of knapsack but the gains from it were better off. The majority of respondents were willing to pay for drone technology but did not have the resource to purchase and their decision was influence by their source of income, access to credit and input. Lastly, on market acceptance, it was revealed that maize farmer's decision to accept drone technology was influence by their gender, access to credit, contact with extension officers, their status, primary occupation, reliability, responsiveness, cost and content of drone technology. The implication of the study is to help farmers meet national production targets whiles improving the livelihood of farmers. However, the research was faced with limitations such as uncooperativeness of farmers, Poorly recorded keeping and language barrier.
Selorm Omega is a Ghanaian studying Agricultural Economics (MPhil.) with the University of Cape Coast.