We assess the potential and constraints of increased sorghum and pearl millet production to enhance food security and livelihoods in central Tanzania. These dryland cereals show a high potential to contribute to local food security. The study employed structured questionnaire survey as the main data collection method. Data analysis involved the use of Multinomial logit model (MNL) in combination with other descriptive statistics to determine the socio-economic and agro ecological variables influencing crop and variety choices and preferences. Empirical results revealed that age of the household head, farming experience, having plots on particular soil types and access to weather information significantly influence choices of cereal crops among sorghum, pearl millet and maize. On the same token, age, farming experience, farmer-extension contact and access to weather information were important factors on the choice of sorghum varieties viz. local landraces versus improved. Farmers’ perception results show that harvest and post-harvest processes, consumer tastes and preferences, and market access and prices strongly influence farmers’ decisions to grow sorghum. In conclusion the results show that although sorghum and pearl millet contribute to the food supply, perceptions, agro-ecological variables and socio-economic factors collectively constrain the realization of their potential in minimizing household food insecurity.
Key words: Drought tolerant cereals, agro-ecological, perception, multinomial logit, food security, livelihoods.
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