Date of Award

Summer 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

First Advisor

Jerry L. Peters

Committee Chair

Jerry L. Peters

Committee Member 1

B. Allen Talbert

Committee Member 2

Roger Tormoehlen


The study described the contribution of field days to promoting the adoption of improved maize varieties by small holder farmers of Chitsime and Mpingu Extension Planning Areas (EPAs) in Lilongwe District, Malawi. Sixty farmers from two EPAs where the field days had been conducted were randomly selected. Data were collected through personal interviews because literacy was a problem among farmers. The results of the study showed that 31 (51.7%) of the farmers interviewed were female. Use of other methods such as radio, mobile van, leaflets, posters, village meetings and messages sent to farmers’ cellphones helped to popularize the improved maize varieties. The top three advantages of planting improved maize varieties were reported to be: high yielding, resistant to disease and pest, and good taste. The top three disadvantages of planting improved maize varieties were reported to be: low storability, rot while in the field, and high implementation cost.^ The field days conducted were found to contribute to promoting the adoption of improved maize varieties. Farmers were able to learn new information about the improved maize varieties and all farmers expressed interest in planting the improved maize varieties demonstrated during the field days. Fifty-three (88.3%) farmers rated field days as an appropriate method for disseminating information about improved maize varieties. It was reported that adequate time needs to be allocated for farmers to view demonstration plots and that invited guests should arrive on time and not dominate speaking during the field days. Conducting the field days at a central location near the farmer’s village would allow more farmers to participate in all stages of maize production. The use of flat iron sheets in place of flipcharts to explain what is being demonstrated at the farm plot would prevent the information from becoming damaged during inclement weather. It was also suggested that farmers need to be separated into male and female groups during viewing of the demonstration plots to allow for the asking of questions by both genders. Finally there is also a need to increase extension staff and farmer interaction through follow up after each field day.^ A Pearson’s Spearman Rank Coefficient (rho) indicated that among the variables: age, size of household, number of years farming and size of farm in acres there was a very strong positive relationship between size of the farm in acres and area used to grow maize last season (r = .716). A Point Biserial Coefficient (rpb) indicated there was negligible relationships between the variables: gender, marital status, level of education and the number of acres used to grow maize last season.