Livestock Research for Rural Development 20 (9) 2008 Guide for preparation of papers LRRD News

Citation of this paper

Factors influencing the adoption of grasscutter production in the Brong Ahafo region of Ghana

S Y Annor and C Kusi

Department of Animal Science Education, University of Education, Winneba, P.O. Box 40, Mampong-Ashanti, Ghana


The Government of Ghana and NGOs have been promoting grasscutter production in the Brong Ahafo region of Ghana in the last nine years. NGOs support farmers with training to acquire knowledge and skills in grasscutter rearing. Although some farmers are given training, they do not go into production. This study was aimed at finding out the factors facilitating or hindering the adoption of grasscutter farming in the Brong Ahafo region. A total of 50 farmers comprising two focus groups (adopters and non-adopters) that were trained were identified and interviewed. Focus group questions were based on Rogers’ and Pantanali’s models of adoption where characteristics of farmers, labour, finance and the social system are considered as essential factors affecting adoption. The data was analyzed by using SPSS computer programme. Pearson Correlation was used to determine the relationship between adoption and the variables studied.

Farmers’ decision on the adoption of grasscutter farming was positively affected by sex, marital status and funding, and negatively affected by age and education. Occupation had no influence on adoption. Lack of breeding stock and initial capital required to purchase breeding stock and cages were found to be constraints. It was concluded that the characteristics of individual farmers should be taken into consideration during training needs assessment, and give each individual the appropriate training. It was also recommended that NGOs should strengthen grasscutter farmers’ association so that they can provide credit to grasscutter trainees, especially women and the youth, to purchase start-up breeding stock and cages.

Keywords: age, educational status, funding, marital status,occupation, sex


The demand for grasscutter meat in Ghana is high with its accompanying price hikes. Hence, the prospect of grasscutter rearing is very bright and encouraging either as a full-time or part-time job. The Department of Game and Wildlife estimated sometime ago that 80% of the rural population in Ghana depends on game meat for their dietary protein supply (Asibey 1987). The most commonly consumed species of game meat by those living in rural areas is the grasscutter (Asibey 1978). Grasscutter meat is also a delicacy in big towns and cities in Ghana. The popularity and delicacy of the grasscutter meat among other reasons led to several studies on the animal during the 1970’s with the primary aim of domesticating the species for large-scale farming and production of the meat for human consumption (Asibey 1974; 1978).

Pioneering work on domestication of the grasscutter was undertaken by the Game and Wildlife, now Wildlife Department in Ghana, in the 1970’s. Interested farmers were provided with a seed stock of a male and a female grasscutters (mostly captured from the wild) and a cage (Adu 2002). Trained extension workers monitored the performance of the animals. The idea was that the research findings could be applied directly by farmers and that both rural and urban household could rear grasscutters in their farms either as a backyard activity to supplement household income and protein supply or as large-scale commercial activity. Despite being given incentives those days, farmers failed to adopt the initiative.

The Government of Ghana through the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) has recently been promoting grasscutter production in the country (Attah-Agyepong and Weidinger 2002). The primary goal of these organizations is to improve the welfare of rural families through enhancing productivity of small-scale rural farmers and promoting equitable access to resources. The NGOs support farmers by assisting them with training and start-up breeding stock at subsidized prices. Despite the low initial capital outlay of the grasscutter industry and the subsidies provided by NGOs, some farmers do not adopt or go into production when introduced to the innovation. According to White (1981), the main problem of limited adoption of a technology or venture, which appears sound, when evaluated using the criteria of the agricultural scientists and development experts, can be thought of as the ‘technology application gap’.

The objective of the study was to find out the factors facilitating or hindering the adoption of grasscutter farming in the Brong Ahafo region of Ghana.


Study area
The study was carried out between January and June 2004 in the Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana. Brong Ahafo is the second largest region of the country with a population of 1,824,822 representing 9.9% of the nation’s total population. Out of the total population, 1,332,000 (73%) live in the rural areas (MOFA 2001).

The inhabitants are mostly peasant farmers producing all kinds of foodstuffs, some of which are plantain, cassava, yam, cocoyam and vegetables such as tomatoes, pepper, onion and garden eggs. They also grow cash crops such as cocoa, coffee, and cashew. Traditionally, livestock production in Ghana has been concentrated in the northern sectors (Upper East, Upper West and Northern Regions) because the savanna vegetation is suitable for providing feed for the animals. However, in recent times, the Brong Ahafo region is playing an important role in livestock production because in certain parts of the region the vegetation has turned from forest into grassland.
Study population
The study covered adopters and non-adopters who were trained in grasscutter rearing by GTZ with the primary aim of helping them to become grasscutter farmers. As at the time of doing this study, there were 252 grasscutter farmers (approximately 50:50 sex ratio) in the Brong Ahafo region and about 500 farmers had been trained by GTZ (Alhassan et al 2004). A total of 50 farmers and individuals trained by GTZ comprising two foci groups were identified and interviewed. Focus group questions were based on Roger’s and Pantanali’s model of adoption (Pantanali 1987; Rogers 1995). Participants were selected from 8 towns and villages in the Brong Ahafo region with the help of extension agents of MOFA and GTZ by using purposive and random sampling (Galloway 1997), as explained below. The adopters were visited at their farm sites to help get accurate information whiles the non-adopters were reached in their homes.
Data collection and analysis
Two sampling techniques, viz., purposive sampling and random sampling were adopted (Galloway 1997). Purposive sampling was used to identify farmers in the study area who were trained by GTZ. Random sampling technique was used to select 50 farmers from the lot for the study. The 50 farmers comprised 20 adopters and 30 non-adopters.

Information was gathered through questionnaires, field observations and interviews. Interviews were conducted on a one-to-one basis with farmers. The questionnaire was constructed to elicit the following information from farmers: demographic, training, finance and social system. The data was analyzed by using SPSS computer programme (SPSS 2006). Pearson Correlation was used to determine the relationship between adoption and the variables studied (SPSS 2006).

Results and discussions

Equal number of males and females were interviewed (Table 1). The total number of male farmers who adopted grasscutter rearing was three times more than the number of female farmers. Female non adopters were also two times more than males

Table 1.  Sex of respondents

Focus Group


% of Total


% of Total






Non Adopters










The correlation between sex and adoption was +0.41 (P<0.01). This indicates that farmers’ decision on adoption of grasscutter technology was positively influenced by sex of respondent. Recently, Teklewold
et al (2006) made the same observation in poultry. The result of their work indicated that male household heads were potential adopters of exotic poultry breed than female farmers.

These findings might have stemmed from the fact that males give the nod if any member of the family wants to go into production of any kind; because the culture of the people studied mandates the male as the head of the family and therefore responsible for decisions taken in the house (Berry 1994). This can affect the main objective of the grasscutter promotion projects which seek to improve the welfare of women and the youth (Wontewe 2002). According to Rogers (1995), the culture within the social system and the individuals who make up the social system can affect the diffusion of new ideas. Gerland (1991) also identified people issues which included cultural traditions, as among the major barriers to diffusion and adoption process.
Age was classified into youth, adult and the aged (Table 2). Most of the farmers who adopted grasscutter farming were adults, followed by the youth and then the aged. For non-adopters, the youth formed the highest proportion, followed by adults and then the aged. This probably means that majority of the people who went for the grasscutter training programmes were within the youth age group. This is in accordance with the project’s aim of training and equipping the youth with operational skills that would enable them to establish their own farms. Although most of the youth were trained in grasscutter rearing majority of the people who went into actual production were adults (Table 2). There was a significant negative correlation (-0.42) between age and adoption (P<0.01).

The results of this study is at variance with the study of Teklewold et al (2006), which showed that farmers’ decision on the extent of adoption of exotic poultry breed was positively influenced by age of household head. They observed that farmers who were above 39 years were most likely to have lower adoption rates, because older people fear the risk of poultry diseases and other unexpected events in exotic breed of poultry whilst young farmers tend to be more flexible in their decisions to adopt new ideas and technologies more rapidly.

Table 2.  Age of respondents (years)
Focus Group Youth (18-45), years % of Total Adult (45-60), Years % of Total Aged (>60), Years % of Total
Adopters 5 25 12 60 3 15
Non-adopters 22 73 6 20 2 7
Total 27 54 18 36 5 10

The scenario of the current study is quite different from that of Teklewold et al (2006). In the former, both old and young farmers were not conversant with grasscutter rearing whilst in the latter situation a new breed was being introduced to replace an old one. Moreover, in the current study, as to why as high as 73% of the non-adopters were youth can be traced to the fact that the youth (especially the young-youth that is those between 18 and 30 years) do not usually decide for themselves. According to Pantanali (1987), male adults are the sole decision-makers in most farming communities. Family property such as land and houses are directly controlled by the family heads who are usually adults. In circumstances like this adoption becomes a problem despite the fact that younger farmers are usually more innovative than the older ones.
Marital status
The marital status of respondents is shown in Table 3. Many of the adopters of grasscutter farming were married compared to single individuals and divorcees. However, unmarried individuals dominated the non-adopters, and there was no divorcee. The coefficient of marital status in the adoption of grasscutter rearing was positive (+0.40) and statistically significant (P<0.01). The results support the hypothesis that, as a good source of labour for animal production management, households with more family size are more likely to be adopters than families with lower family size (Teklewold et al 2006).

This probably implies that married persons with medium to large families are more likely to adopt the grasscutter farming in order to ensure family support as 84% of the total respondents admitted that grasscutter rearing is labour intensive or labour demanding. For instance, feeding (cutting of grass), cleaning and handling were identified as aspects of grasscutter keeping which were labour intensive. Labour is said to be partly responsible for non-adoption, probably, due to the financial commitment involved.

Table 3.  Marital status of respondents
Focus group Married % of Total Single % of Total Divorced % of Total
Adopters 17 85 2 10 1 5
Non-Adopters 11 37 19 63 0 0
Total 28 56 21 42 1 2

According to Pantanali (1987), labour intensive technologies are unlikely to be adopted. In view of this, potential adopters may want to depend on family labour than to hire, for possible reduction in the cost of production. Family labour counts a lot in the adoption of agricultural innovation, because 50% of the adopters had large family sizes of more than four. Moreover, 80% of the non-adopter couples had small family sizes, so their inability to adopt can be attributed to their inability to secure labour resulting from small family sizes. This re-emphasizes the point made that adopters may want to depend on their families as a source of labour. Adoption is significantly influenced by labour so potential adopters with small families are likely to shy away from adopting innovation.
Farmers, traders and civil servants constituted the occupational status of respondents (Table 4). Farmers dominated both the adopter and non-adopter categories with respect to occupation. The correlation between occupation and adoption (-0.26) was not significant (P>0.05). This indicates that occupation had no influence on adoption of grasscutter farming.

Table 4.  Occupation of respondents
Focus group Farming % of Total Trading % of Total Civil servant % of Total
Adopters 15 75 2 10 3 15
Non-Adopters 28 94 1 3 1 3
Total 43 86 3 6 4 8

In the literal sense however, the 86% of farmers recorded shows that the majority of the people who were trained as potential grasscutter farmers were farmers in retrospect. This is in line with the NGOs objective of reducing poverty among rural or urban farmers by providing them with requisite skills in grasscutter keeping. NGOs seek also to provide an alternative income generating activity for the farmers. This is in the right direction because according to Boama (2002), about 60 – 65% of the inhabitants of Brong Ahafo region derive their livelihood from agriculture and agriculture-related activities (MOFA 2001).
Educational status
The respondents were grouped into four; illiterate, basic school leaver, secondary and tertiary school leavers (Table 5). Illiterates included school drop outs below basic school level. Most of the respondents were basic school leavers, followed by secondary, tertiary and illiterate in that order. From Table 5, 10% of both adopters and non-adopters had not been to school, whilst 90% had either been to basic, secondary or tertiary institution. The coefficient of educational status in the adoption of grasscutter rearing was negative (-0.30) and statistically significant (P<0.05).

Table 5.  Educational status of respondents
Focus group Illiterate % of Total Basic School % of Total Secondary % of Total Tertiary % of Total
Adopters 2 10 9 45 4 20 5 25
Non-adopters 3 10 22 73 4 13 1 3
Total 5 10 31 62 8 16 6 12

The results show that adoption was negatively influenced by level of education. The results is difficult to explain, given the fact that adoption rate of basic school leavers was the highest among the group, and as high as 73% of the total non-adopters had below secondary education whilst 10% were illiterates (Table 5).

Traditionally, research has shown that there is positive correlation between level of education of farmers and the speed with which they pick an innovation (Pantanali1987). This means that farmers who are learned, that is, those who can read, understand and analyze issues are more capable of adopting a technology and vice versa. However, this trend is changing because in recent times, illiterates, school drop outs and basic school leavers learn from educated people in the society to effect economic change in their lives.

In an article to investigate the role of schooling at household and community levels in the adoption and diffusion of agricultural innovations in rural Ethiopia, Weir and Knight (2004) found out that those without schooling may eventually copy the educated. They presented an evidence to suggest that there are two externality effects: educated farmers are early innovators, providing an example that may be copied by less educated farmers; and educated farmers are better able to copy those who adopt innovation first, enhancing diffusion of the new technology more widely in the community.
Majority of the respondents had some sort of problems with finance (Table 6). Only a few could finance themselves. Funding was positively correlated to adoption (+0.50) and the effect was significant (P<0.01).

According to Pantanali (1987), relative cost (the amount of money needed to go into production) and external dependence with respect to input supply, price and market are among the characteristic features of technology which have influence on adoption.

Table 6.  Financial problems
Focus group Poor financial standing % of Total Sound financial standing % of Total
Adopters 18 90 2 10
Non-Adopters 30 100 0 0
Total 48 96 2 4

Grasscutter keeping as any other production venture requires some amount of capital to begin with and get the production on-going. Although the initial capital outlay is low compared to the traditional livestock enterprises, a sizeable amount of money is needed for the construction of cages and purchasing of start-up breeding stock. Even though, NGOs subsidize for the cost of animals and training in order to boost adoption, most (92 %) of the respondents suggested that assistance should fully cover the cost of breeding stock, training and construction of cages. They also suggested that credit facilities must be made available to the potential adopters to help facilitate adoption. This is confirmed by Just and Zilberman (1983) who introduced a credit constraint to their static model of adoption under uncertainty. They observed that the availability of credit is one of the most important determinants of smallholder farmers’ adoption.
All the 50 respondents indicated that there is a secured market for grasscutter meat. Not only is the demand high, farmers are also convinced of a secured price for their produce. The market for both fresh and smoked grasscutter meat is unlimited (Kabir 2005). This is truly impetus to grasscutter farming because feasibility reports on grasscutter farming ventures indicated that the long term profitability is comparable to that of poultry and higher than cattle ranching (Tutu et al 1996).

The high sale of the grasscutter meat (Houben 1999) makes its business not only profitable but also remunerative and very lucrative too (Falconer 1994), if breeders will only be conscientious. The prospect of grasscutter rearing is very bright either as a full-time job or part-time due to its high demand. According to Sunding and Zilberman (1999) when a new technology has a yield effect, if it is perceived to have higher rise or hindrances, its good price support policies and relative profitability leads to its adoption.
Community’s attitude
All the 50 adopter and non-adopter respondents acknowledged that their communities have no negative perception about grasscutter farming. The respondents even confessed that most of the inhabitants would have wished to benefit from the grasscutter training program but financial commitment involved was their main concern. Interestingly, none of the respondents admitted his/her belief prohibits the rearing or the eating of the animal. Unlike some bushmeat which may not be killed or touched because of religious dictates, traditional taboos or prejudices (Vos 1978), the grasscutter meat transcends religious prohibitions and even Muslims who do not consume rabbit or guinea pig are known to consume grasscutter (Adoun 1993). Therefore, it can be concluded that the inability of some trained farmers to adopt the grasscutter rearing cannot be attributed to the communities’ attitude towards the rearing of the animal. This means that the grasscutter industry stands a greater chance of growing vigorously in the region when other related factors such as finance, resources and labour are properly addressed.



The authors are grateful to the German Technical Co-operation (GTZ) in Sunyani for providing financial support for this study.


Adoun C 1993 Place de l'aulacode (Thryonomys swinderianus ) dans le règne animal et sa répartition géographique. In Actes, 1ère conférence internationale sur l'aulacodiculture: Acquis et perspectives, Cotonou, Benin, pp. 35-40.

Adu E K 2002 Research on grasscutter production in Ghana. Proceedings of Workshop on Promoting Grasscutter Production for Poverty Reduction in Ghana, Editors. K Atta-Agyapong and Rita Weidinger. October 16-18, 2002, Sunyani, Ghana.  Qualitype Printing and Graphics, Accra, Ghana, pp. 27-33

Alhassan M, Osei-Frimpong G and Weidinger R 2004 Grasscutter promotion in the Brong Ahafo region. Annual report, GTZ, Sunyani, Ghana.

Asibey E O A 1974 Wildlife as a source of protein in Africa, South of Sahara. Biological Conservation, 6(1): 32-39.

Asibey E O A 1978 Wildlife production as a means of protein supply in West Africa with particular reference to Ghana. Proceeding of the 8th Forestry Congress,  3: 869 – 881

Asibey E O A 1987 A paper presented at the Ghana livestock show 1987 at Trade Fair Site, La, Accra, Ghana, 4pp.

Attah-Agyepong K and Weidinger R 2002 Workshop Overview. Proceedings of Workshop on Promoting Grasscutter Production for Poverty Reduction in Ghana, Editors. K Atta-Agyapong and Rita Weidinger. October 16-18, 2002, Sunyani, Ghana.  Qualitype Printing and Graphics, Accra, Ghana, pp. 1-3

Berry L V 1994 The position of women. In: Ghana: A Country Study. Washington: GPO for the Library of Congress, 1994.

Boama J K 2002 Why grasscutter promotion? Proceedings of Workshop on Promoting Grasscutter Production for Poverty Reduction in Ghana, Editors. K Atta-Agyapong and Rita Weidinger. October 16-18, 2002, Sunyani, Ghana.  Qualitype Printing and Graphics, Accra, Ghana, pp. 51-55.

Falconer J 1994 Non-timber forest products in southern Ghana: main report. Republic of Ghana Forestry Department and Overseas Development Administration, Natural Resources Institute, Chatham.

Galloway A 1997 In: A Workbook of Sampling. Editor. Kate Galloway.

Gerland K P 1991 Diffusion and adoption of instructional technology. In: Instructional Technology: Past, Present and Future. Editor. G.J. Anglin, 2nd Edition, Eaglewood, Co: Libraries Unlimited. Pp. 283

Houben P 1999 Grasscutter breeding in Gabon. Data for Assessment, D.G.E.G; B.P. 9129, Libreville, Gabon: In Canopee (1999), Ecofac/E.E, No 15: 7 – 8.

Just R E and Zilberman D 1983 Stochastic structure, farm size, and technology adoption in developing agriculture. Oxford Economic Papers, 35(2):307-328.

Kabir P 2005 The market potential for grasscutter production: A case study in the Sunyani Metropolis of Brong-Ahafo Region. University of Education, Winneba, Ghana, Bachelor of Education Dissertation, 54 pp.

Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) 2001 Facts and figures: Management Information systems (MIS) Unit, Accra. pp 1 – 6.

Pantanali R 1987 Factors Affecting Farmers Adoption Rates in a Subsistence Economy, In: The Design of Agricultural Investment Projects – Lessons from experience. FAO Technical Paper 6, Rome, 1989, Annex 3, pp 2 - 5

Rogers E M 1995 Diffusion of Innovation. 4th Edition, New York, The Free Press. Pp. 1 – 23

Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) 2006 SPSS Graduate Pack 15.0. Journey Education Marketing Inc., U.K.

Sunding D and Zilberman D 1999 In: The Agricultural Innovation Process: Research and Technology Adoption in a Changing Agricultural Sector. Pp. 2 – 10

Teklewold H, Dadi L, Yami A and Dana N 2006 Determinants of adoption of poultry technology: a double-hurdle approach. Livestock Research for Rural Development, Volume 18 article # 40,  Retrieved July 21, 2008, from

Tutu K A, Ntiamoa-Baidu Y and Asuming-Brempong S 1996 The economics of living with wild life in Ghana. In: The Economics of Wild Life: case studies from Ghana, Kenya, Namibia and Zimbabwe. Edited by Bojo J, pp. 11-38

Vos A De 1978 Game as Food. A Report on its significance in Africa and Latin America, Unasylva, pp. 2 – 12

Weir S and Knight J 2004 Externality effects of education: Dynamics of the adoption and diffusion of an innovation in rural Ethiopia. Economic Development and Cultural Change 53:93-113

White W 1981 Participatory approaches to agricultural research and development. A state of the art paper – Rural development committee. Special Series on Agricultural Research and Extension No 1. Ithaca, New York, Cornell University. p. 1 - 10

Wontewe C 2002 Action Aid Ghana contribution to grasscutter promotion in Ghana. Proceedings of Workshop on Promoting Grasscutter Production for Poverty Reduction in Ghana, Editors. K Atta-Agyapong and Rita Weidinger. October 16-18, 2002, Sunyani, Ghana.  Qualitype Printing and Graphics, Accra, Ghana, pp. 7-9

Received 16 June 2008; Accepted 22 July 2008; Published 4 September 2008

Go to top