Land fragmentation is a major problem in most parts of the world as it restricts agricultural development, reduces productivity and opportunities for rural development. Kisii County shows a clear case of land fragmentation due to high population pressure and poverty. This study was conducted with the aim of examining the effect of land fragmentation on agricultural productivity by examining the technical efficiency of households in the area. The specific objectives were to determine factors that influence land fragmentation, to determine the level of technical efficiency in fragmented lands, and to determine the effects of land fragmentation on household income in Kisii County. The study area was purposively selected (Kisii County) with a representative sample of 196 drawn randomly. Primary data was collected using structured questionnaires. The analysis used a Cobb-Douglas production (Stochastic Frontier) function, Tobit model and 3 Stage least squares method. Land fragmentation was found to have negative effect on agricultural productivity, but it may also provide benefits for farm households. On factors that influenced land fragmentation, age of the household head, education level of the household head, number of males and females, generations through land has been transferred, amount of output (maize), tillage method, land size, household income, and membership to a group and access to extension services were found to be significant at different levels. The technical efficiency was found to be 36.82 with more than half of the households falling below 50%. The quantity of planting fertilizer used, certified seeds and fragmentation index were found to influence the level of technical efficiency. On the third objective, crop diversity, labour days, fertilizer use and non-farm income were found to be significant in influencing household farm income. On the other hand, land area, fertilizer use and fragmentation index were significant in influencing the farm’s crop diversity. To reduce effects of land fragmentation, appropriate steps like creating awareness on its effects, passing legislature on the contiguous and acceptable land size and promote successful land consolidation in the regions where land fragmentation is an issue, and where an increase in agricultural production capacity is needed.

1.0 Background information 
In Kenya, 16 per cent of the available land is of high and medium agricultural potential with adequate and reliable rainfall. These areas support agricultural activities such as intensive cropping and dairy production. Moreover, such areas are dominated by commercial agriculture with cropland occupying 31 per cent, grazing land 30 per cent, and forests 22 per cent. The Arid and Semi-arid land (ASALs) occupy the remaining 84 per cent. ASALS are not suitable for rain- fed farming mainly practiced in Kenya due to the low and erratic rainfall. As much as this is the case, it is estimated that 80% of Kenyas’ population live and derive their livelihoods in the ASALs. The rest of the population occupies the high to medium land area. This puts a lot of pressure on land resulting to the high and medium potential areas being reduced to small scale farms of up to 0.5 – 10 ha. Consequently, about 81% of small-scale farmers occupy holdings of less than 2 ha (MoA, 2009). 

Considering that the population growth rate is 3.2%, the pressure on land is continuously reducing the capacity to sustain food production and cash crop farming. To increase agricultural production, intensive production systems will have to be practiced. This will be through increased use of improved inputs, diversification of value crops, commercialization of smallholder agriculture, and increased value addition through stronger linkages with other sectors. Therefore, for agriculture to reach its full potential, better land use and reclaiming of idle land in the less populated areas has to be undertaken. This will increase agricultural productivity to a great extent (GoK, 2009). 

Increasing agricultural productivity can also be achieved through smallholder agriculture commercialization. This transformation can be realized through key institutions in agriculture, livestock, forestry and wildlife, increasing productivity of crops, livestock and tree cover, improving market access for smallholders and introducing land-use policies that advocate for better use of the high and medium potential lands (ASDC, 2010). 

Land fragmentation is evident in many areas throughout the world. Although the causes vary from country to country and from region to region, there is an agreement that the four main factors that trigger land fragmentation are: inheritance, population growth, land markets and historical/cultural perspectives (Thapa, 2005; Tan et al., 2006; Van Hung et al., 2007). Other factors noted in more specific situations include: social and administrative decrees (Bentley, 1987); long-established cultivation (Binns, 1950); shortages of land and nucleated settlement (Papageorgiou, 1956) and the conversion of forest lands to arable land (Grigg, 1980). 

In Kenya, there are various land tenure systems being practiced. These include communal land, Government trust land, and privately owned land. The communal land ownership system is one that follows the traditional customary rights, where all individuals in a community have a right to use land though they cannot sell it. Government trust land is land held by ministries, state corporations or other public institutions for public use. Privately owned lands are those that have been registered under freehold or leasehold system. The owners of such land can use it as collateral to access credit (MoA, 2009). 

Over the years, land ownership that focuses on individual ownership and management of land that allows property inheritance by children has greatly led to land fragmentation. Having a very small piece of land and many children, leads to land being sub-divided into fragments that are not viable for production. Land fragmentation eventually leads to sub-optimal use of factor inputs lowering overall returns expected from a certain parcel of land. The factors that propagate this are loss of time due to traveling to plots, wastage of land along borders, inadequate monitoring, and the inability to use machinery such as tractors and harvesters (ASDC, 2010). 

Land is considered as one of the most important resources in agriculture. Lack of access to it is one of the major causes of poverty (UNDP, 2002). Scarcity of agricultural land makes the issue of land use policy a critical one. Policy makers for a long time have been worried by the effect of land fragmentation on agriculture because it is expected to have a negative effect on agricultural production. As such, policies on land consolidation are frequently implemented to soften the degree of land fragmentation. 

Existence of fragmented landholdings is regarded a feature of less developed agricultural systems (Van Hung et al., 2007; Hristov, 2009). This is regarded as a major obstacle to agricultural development, because it hinders agricultural mechanization, causes inefficiencies in production, and involves large cost to alleviate its effects (Najafi, 2003; Thomas, 2006; Thapa, 2007; Tan et al., 2008). 

To overcome the effects of land fragmentation, European countries like Netherlands and France and African countries like Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda have implemented numerous land consolidation and reform policies (Sabates-Wheeler, 2002; Sundqvist and Andersson, 2006). In Kenya, land consolidation and land reform policies have not been fully implemented because the government cannot take a high moral ground in Kenya’s land reform issues. This is because the government is solely responsible for the irregular allocation of public land to reward its political supporters (MoL, 2000). 

Land fragmentation at the household level depends on factors like external policy, market factors, agro-ecological conditions and farm household socio-economic characteristics. This study will look at land fragmentation as a phenomenon existing in farm level management where people operate a number of owned non-contiguous plots at the same time (Wu et al., 2005; Daniel et al., 2010). 

Statement of the problem
Kisii County is highly dependent on agriculture. The county is characterized by smallholder farming households. Most households occupy holdings that are less than 10 ha. due to the rampant land fragmentation resulting from the ever increasing population which puts pressure on land forcing households to divide their land as they try to balance between agriculture and settlement. This conflict becomes intense to an extent that land allocated to agriculture becomes so small to sustain better agricultural practices hence leading to reduced agricultural productivity as the capacity of the land to sustain food production and cash crop farming is reduced. Although land fragmentation is well recognized, little research in Kisii County has been done to determine how much it has affected productivity. 

General objective 
The main objective of this study was to contribute to knowledge on land fragmentation in order to enhance agricultural productivity. 

Specific objectives 
The specific objectives of the study are: 
i. To determine factors that influence land fragmentation among households in Kisii County. 
ii. To determine the level of technical efficiency in fragmented lands in Kisii County. 
iii. To determine the effects of land fragmentation on household income. 

Research questions 
i. What are the factors that influence land fragmentation in households? 
ii. What is the level of technical efficiency in fragmented lands in Kisii County? 
iii. What is the effect of land fragmentation on household income? 

Justification of the study 
Agricultural growth is one of the leading ways of reducing poverty in Kenya among the smallholder farmers in rural areas. Increasing the potential of small-scale farmers will alleviate poverty by increasing their incomes. However, since most of the rural people are poor, they sell some parcels of their land to get cash either for food or paying school fees for their children or to build houses but none of the cash is ploughed back to the farms that feed them. 

Over the last few years, the Kenyan government has been trying to promote agriculture, but has not looked at the average land sizes in the highly productive areas like Kisii. The population density in these areas is high for instance in Kisii it is 874.7 people per Km2 and the number of households being 245,029 over an area of 1,317.4 Km2 (KNBS, 2009). 

The population in the high and medium productive areas like Kisii has increased, leading to land being highly subdivided into such small sizes that are uneconomical for farm enterprises. Moreover, families in Kisii still embrace the traditional and cultural values of land inheritance. Boys in the family expect an equal portion of their fathers’ land without considering the size of the land. To mitigate this problem, land subdivision should be restricted and farm enterprises intensified (GoK, 2010). 

Therefore this study intends to bring out the land fragmentation issue that has for long been quietly discussed among the policy makers. Land fragmentation is an issue that has to be addressed first before tackling the issue of increasing agricultural productivity in the potential areas. With the ever-increasing population, there is increased pressure on land forcing people to compromise between settlement and agriculture. Government policy makers in trying to address the problem of land fragmentation in the high and medium agricultural productive areas will find this research useful in the quest of trying to improve agricultural productivity. In addition, this study will be useful as contribution to the body of knowledge. 

Scope of the study 
Kisii County may not be the true measure of land fragmentation situation in the country as there are other counties that maybe in the same situation but measures have been put across to counter the issue of land fragmentation. Also only output of the major crop (maize) and technical efficiencies in the area of study was studied. This may not be the true measure of agricultural productivity that contributes fully to the country’s GDP. The study depended on information from recall method which deterred the data collection process. 

Definition of key terms Land fragmentation 
Land fragmentation is defined as a decrease in the size of farms or an increase in the scattering of a farmer's land or a decrease in the size of the plots owned by an individual. This is done by subdividing farm land into undersized units that are so small for rational cultivation. Plots become noncontiguous as they are in form of strips or blocks the make it hard for mechanization and are intermixed with plots operated by other farmers. In this study, Land Fragmentation arises when the household head decides to divide his/her land among the sons. 

Technical efficiency 
A producer is considered to be technically efficient when an increase of output will need a reduction in one other output or a small increase in one input. Therefore, an ‘efficient farm’ is one that utilizes fewer resources compared to other farms to produce a given quantity of output. This superiority is manifested from having higher efficiency ratios and lower cost per unit of production. Hence, agricultural efficiency is attained if greatest possible product is attained from a given resource. 

Agricultural productivity 
Agricultural productivity is measured as the ratio of agricultural outputs to agricultural inputs. 

Farm size 
Mbowa (1996) suggested that numerous definitions of farm size ranging from acreage, value of farm products sold, days worked off-farm, level of farm income and the level of total family income. The study took farm size to mean farm acreage because it can easily be ascertained and is easy to understand. 

These are defined in this study as farmers with at most 2 hectares of arable land used for agriculture and settlement.

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Item Type: Kenyan Topic  |  Attribute: 57 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
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