Kenya’s Agricultural Sector Development Strategy (ASDS), envisions a food secure and prosperous nation with the overall goal of the agricultural sector to achieve an average growth rate of 7 percent per year. The strategy has, among others, target to reduce food insecurity by 30 percent to surpass the MDGs by the year 2015. About 60 per cent of households in western Kenya live below poverty line an indication of a high proportion of the population without adequate quantity and quality of food intake. With the adoption of agricultural intensification strategies which entails investments in modern inputs and technologies, the development of the (ISVs) improved sweet potato varieties by Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organization(KALRO) is better option to increase agricultural production and quality produce and reduce food insecurity. However, before undertaking any impact assessment, it was imperative to establish whether the participation by farmers was instrumental in the adoption of technologies and innovations. This study aimed at shedding light on the potential contribution of improved sweet potato varieties on food security in Bungoma East Sub county, Bungoma County. The analysis was based on the data collected from a sample of 164 farm households in the sub county. A multistage sampling procedure was used to arrive at the sample, with semi structured questionnaires employed as the research instrument to collect qualitative and quantitative data through face to face interviews. Household Dietary Diversity Index (HDDS) method was used to measure food security (assess the access and quality of food intake). I used descriptive statistics, Heckman two step model and endogenous switching probit model to analyse. SPSS and STATA computer programs were used to process the data. The results show that adoption of improved sweet potato varieties were largely influenced by extension contact and also education level but negatively influenced by farming experience as expected. However the adoption of ISVs (Improved Sweetpotato Varieties) had a robust and positive effect on farmer’s household food security. In counterfactual case, adopters have 7.8% probability of being food secure while non adopters would have 6.8% probability of being food insecure hence better-off not adopting the ISVs through reduced food security. The need to strengthen extension services by the government since farmers get most of their information about new technologies from them, diversifying farm income through creation of sustainable off-farm activities and strengthen contractual agreements in marketing to wipe out middlemen in the process and assure farmers constant market for their produce are among the public policy recommendations that would help increase probability of being food secure.

Background Information 
Achieving food security is a prerequisite to realizing the first and the third United Nations MDGs (Millennium development Goals) that are concerned with reducing the proportion of people who suffer from hunger and is the major objective of the Kenya government. The scarcity of productive land is a central issue in agricultural policy (GOK, 2004). Agricultural production is concentrated in high potential areas where population density is high. Nevertheless 80% of the country is classified as semi arid. At low levels of income, the paramount concern for the human being is to meet the energy needs to overcome hunger. Cereals provide the cheapest source of energy but with the increasing population and decreasing farm sizes, farm households have diversified to other crops like the sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas l). Generally, traditional foods are used to fill in the gaps and in so doing they contribute to the food security and also provide dietary diversity for the people (Musinguzi et al., 2006). 

The nutritional aspect of food security is often overlooked in favor of simply ensuring people are eating regular meals. However, an important part of food security is access to "nutritionally adequate and safe foods" (Radimer, 2002). International studies report that healthy food is more expensive than unhealthy food, and local studies have shown that people in welfare or low-income categories are less likely to buy and eat healthy food (Kettings and Voevodin, 2009). In Kenya, over 75% of sweet potato production is concentrated in western, central and coastal areas of the country. Out of this, over 80% is grown in the Lake Victoria basin (Gruneberg et al., 2004). In western Kenya, farmers grow landrace varieties that are preferred locally but lack consumption appeal for distant markets. 

The food crop come in a range of skin and flesh colors, from white, to orange, to deep purple fleshed roots. New and improved high-yielding varieties have been introduced to farmers throughout Kenya, the orange fleshed sweet potato (OFSP) has a lot of nutritional benefits and it has a high content of β-carotene (a chemical element used by the body to generate Vitamin A) and sufficient dry matter to satisfy consumer preferences and taste. Subsequent studies demonstrated that the consumption of just small amounts of foods derived from the new OFSVs could eliminate or greatly reduce Vitamin A deficiencies in both young children and pregnant and lactating women (Harvest Plus, 2003). The most traded variety is the red skinned and yellow fleshed (RSYF) sweet potato, due to its high consumer demand. It has the highest market share of 73% (USAID, 2012), especially in Nairobi and Kisumu, where it is traded mainly in the informal markets. The red and white skinned sweet potatoes (RWSWF) are more popular in Mombasa, where the agro-ecological factors favor its production. 

It is among the world’s most important, versatile, and underexploited food crops with more than 133 million tons in annual production. Worldwide, sweet potato is the sixth most important food crop after rice, wheat, potatoes, maize, and cassava while in most of the developing nations sweet potato is the fifth most important food crop (CIP, 2013). It is an important food security crop for rural household and has a high yield potential that may be realized within a relatively short growing season. It is also adaptable to a wide ecological range of 0 to 2000 meters above sea level. Sweet potatoes is grown in a wide range of soil type, but does best on soils of friable/loose nature, which permit expansion of tubers. Sweet potatoes grow best in fertile sandy loams and do poorly in clay soils. The crop does poorly in water logged, too shallow or stony soils. Poorly aerated and bulky soils retard tuber formation and reduced yields. The crop is sensitive to saline and alkaline soils and they should be avoided. Too high fertility may result in excessive vegetative growth at the expense of tuber and starch formation. It grows best at 24 0C, when temperatures fall below 120C or exceeds 350C growth is retarded. 750 – 1000mm ideal but crop can withstand drought though under drought conditions, yield s are drastically reduced if drought occurs in the first 6 weeks after planting and also during root formation and development. 

The area under production grew from 20,181 hectares yielding 527,470 tons (valued at KSh 4 billion) in 2009 to 22,989 hectares in 2011 yielding 1,000,267 tons valued at KSh 7.6 billion (HCDA, 2012). Sweet potato is the third most important food crop in Kenya after maize and Irish potato (CIP, 2013). It is a low-input crop making it ideal for many smallholder households. Its contribution to nutrition security has increasingly been recognized, prompting several entities to support tailor-made interventions specifically targeting the sweet potato value chain. The sweet potato is widely enjoyed, and with increasing awareness of its nutritional value and the steadily growing Kenyan population, demand is expected to increase significantly. This presents increased production potential for domestic consumption and subsequent marketing opportunities that cannot be satisfied by the prevailing production levels. The crop is mainly consumed fresh, with negligible exploitation of processing opportunities due to lack of consumer awareness on utilization of sweet potato in processed form. 

Generally, production of sweet potato in Kenya has steadily increased over the years as shown in Figure1 below. According to the MOA (2011), sweet potato production increased by 89% between 2004 and 2009, a scenario attributed to use of improved cultivars and farming methods which have helped increase yield per unit area (MOA, 2010; Kenyon et al., 2006). In the recent past, there have been renewed efforts by the government and other players in the agriculture sector to promote production of traditional high value crops of which sweet potato is among them. For example, through the traditional high value crops (THVC) programmed, the government distributes to farmers improved planting materials for the crops as one of the activities in efforts to promote their production. 

Important research efforts have been devoted to select, breed, and disseminate new sweetpotato varieties that enhance the productivity and quality of food crops, alleviating poverty and food insecurity. The crop is considered as one of the "orphaned" crops along with cassava, amaranth and millet among others because less research and promotion has been accorded to them compared to crops like maize and rice ,but increasingly more such crops are being liberated from their orphaned nature as their qualities of nutrition; low input requirements and drought tolerant are being appreciated in the face of population pressure increase need for food (KACE, 2012). These efforts are a result of the recognition of the important role of these crops in contributing to food security through increasing food supply to both the producers and consumers and generating income to the producers. 

It is produced on small scale in a household based subsistence economy in Africa (Kisiangani and Pasteur, 2008). The crop is typically a small farmer crop and often grown on marginal soils with limited outputs. Sweet potatoes can be boiled, roasted, fried, creamed or baked in their skins (Tewe et al., 2003). They are easily combined with both sweet and savory dishes and are mostly grown on small scale in compound gardens. Research has developed utilization methods like making of chips, blending of sweet potato flour with wheat flour for products like chapati, mandazi or porridge (Nungo et al., 2007). These different methods are intended to increase utilization hence, increasing sweet potato production leading to improve incomes and food security among the poorer segments of the rural population. However, there is limited documentation of farmers’ dietary habits and consumption patterns.

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