Rachuonyo South district is resource endowed in terms of land productivity as is evidenced by annual production outputs of various crops. Sweet potatoes are the main cash crops grown in these areas alongside others such as pineapples, bananas and to some extent tea and coffee. The high outputs enjoyed from the productive lands have not however translated into good living conditions for the residents as their products fetch little in terms of market price the farmers get. Farmers have the option of adding value to their sweet potatoes to fetch optimal prices; which have been advocated in the district by many non- governmental organizations. This study therefore established different value addition techniques being practiced in the district and evaluated the factors influencing value addition and also extent. Systematic sampling method was used to obtain an appropriate sample size. Questionnaires were administered to the respective farmers. Data analysis was done using SPSS statistical software. Descriptive statistics was used to analyze different value addition techniques practiced in the district. Independent t- test and chi square were used to establish if there were any significant differences of socio economic characteristics between value adders and non value adders. Heckman two stage model was used to examine the factors influencing value addition. Results showed that majority of the farmers in the district were involved in grading and packaging, slicing and sun-drying, grinding the sweet potatoes into flour, baking, preparing additives and juice and jam as forms of sweet potato value addition. Some of the factors that were found to influence the decision to add value and extent of value addition were household size, total quantity produced, credit access, land size of the respondents, distance to the market and group membership, From the findings of this study, the policy makers should encourage farmer group formation, value addition loan packages for smallholder farmers, seminars, farmer field days, workshops to enable exchange of ideas among different farmers and further encourage farmers to produce more to enjoy economies of scale there. Marketing of the processed sweet potato products still remain a challenge which calls for proper marketing strategies such as linking farmers with supermarkets. Inadequate product development, proper packaging and labeling are other challenges that require urgent attention through acquiring certification from Kenya Bureau of Standards.

Background information 
Sweet potato (Ipomea batatas) is a warm season tropical tuber crop which is globally the second most economically important tuber after Irish potato and is an important food crop in Sub 

– Saharan Africa (Mukunyadzi, 2009). It has the third greatest production level after cassava and yams and is amongst the widely grown tuber crops by small scale farmers in Sub – Saharan Africa (Kaguongo et al., 2010). In Kenya, it is an important food crop for those who depend on cereals especially maize as their staple diet. Though grown by small-scale farmers for subsistence, its importance is rising as an attractive income generator. (Odendo and Ndolo, 2002; Hagenimana et al., 1999). Its ability to give satisfactory yields under adverse climatic and soil condition as well as under low or non use of external inputs has made it gain popularity among many farmers in Kenya (Nungo et al., 2007; Odendo and Ndolo, 2002). In addition, its flexibility in mixed farming systems and ability to take short period to mature thus offering household food security has made it an important livelihood strategy for small scale farmers (MoA and GTZ, 1998). 

Sweet potato can play a very important role in food security strategy for Kenya since it is drought resistant, it is a relatively short term crop with flexible time of harvest allowing a high degree of flexibility in food security strategy and finally it improves the yield of maize in a crop rotation compared to continuous maize production (Westby et al., 2003). Research has shown that rotating sweet potato with maize improves farmers‟ incomes through higher yields of maize as well as income from sweet potato (Odendo and Ndolo, 2002). 

Sweet potato production in Kenya is mainly concentrated in Nyanza and Western Provinces and to a small extent the Coast and Central Province. There has been a steady increase in the area planted with sweet potato with; average yields being about 10 tons per hectare (MoA & GTZ, 1998). It is consumed as a snack or substitute for bread at breakfast in most households either boiled or roasted and a few instances raw forms (Nungo et al., 2007). Average per capita consumption of sweet potato is about 24 kg per year with higher proportions consumed in the western parts of Kenya (Kaguongo et al., 2010; Odendo and Ndolo, 2002). Nutritionally, sweet potato is an excellent source of vitamin A, particularly the yellow fleshed varieties (Yanggen and Nagujia, 2005; Odendo and Ndolo, 2002). It yields more protein and calories per unit area than either maize or Irish potato (Nungo et al., 2007; MoA and GTZ, 1998). 

In Rachuonyo South, both white and orange-fleshed sweet potato is grown by most households on small holder farms. Some of the varieties grown include Kemb 10 (united), SPK 004 (nyathi odiewo), SPK 013 (Kalamb Nyerere), KSP 20 (Kuny kibuonjo), Kemb20 (Nyamisambi), Kemb 23 (Nya migori), Mwavuli (Olombo japidi), Salyboro (Lodha) and Mugande (Amina) (CEFA, 2010). Although traditionally regarded as a subsistence crop, sweet potato is increasingly being produced for commercial purposes (Westby et al., 2003; MoA & GTZ, 1998). Sweet potato production has also been influenced by other factors, such as new market outlets in urban centers, high cost of inputs for maize production, high cost of living which has forced people to consume cheaper foods for certain meals (IDCCS, 2009). This is evidenced by the steady increase in the area planted. It is the most important cash crop in Kabondo and Kasipul divisions, for instance, 215 acres of 410 acres of Kabondo division was under sweet potato cultivation (DAO, 2008). A survey by IDCCS in 2009 in the two divisions found that most farmers devoted approximately 75% of their land holdings to sweet potato production out of which they realized between18 to 27 bags of 90kgs per acre every season. 

Harvesting of the crop is done when the tubers have reached desirable marketing size and can either be piece meal or whole sale where big tubers are removed when a ready buyer is identified (CEFA, 2010). Because of perishability, excess production is initially stored in underground pits and trenches lined with dry grass but excessive moisture affects the quality of the tubers. Currently, farmers use cold rooms which are constructed strategically within the district (IDCCS, 2009). 

Farmers with small surpluses might sell to neighbours or in the local market; or transport by head, bicycle or donkey to sell in the local trading centre. The farmers may also choose to sell to middlemen who later sell to wholesalers from the cities such as Nairobi, Nakuru and Mombasa though spot marketing is still in existence (Kaguongo et al., 2010; IDCCS, 2009 and MoA &GTZ, 1998). 

Sweet potato in the fresh form has a limited shelf-life (Tomlins et al., 2008). Storage of fresh sweet potato as a form of value addition to extend the season has been practiced in a number of tropical countries with varying degrees of success. Huntrods (2009) and Westby et al. (2003) noted that unprocessed sweet potato has short shelf life leading to storage losses and reduced food security thus processing, freezing or drying may extend shelf life thereby benefiting producers and processors through increased market feasibility. 

Initially, utilization of sweet potato in western Kenya was limited to boiling, roasting and chewing raw but currently this has been changing to value addition by processing the tubers into different products (Nungo et al., 2007). Promotion of on -farm processing of sweet potato in the district has been going on since1995. Products were promoted through field days, agricultural shows, individual or group training, neighbouring schools during sports days or at the local markets. Consumers preferred sweet potato products to wheat flour products (Nungo et al., 2007; MoA & GTZ, 1998). Processing and utilization of sweet potato has the potential to enhance the production of the crop and further can play important place in the food/nutritional security and income generation among the rural households and even urban markets (Nungo et al., 2007; Westby et al., 2003; MoA & GTZ, 1998). 

Statement of the Problem 
Contemporary studies and research points to the need to add value to agricultural produce as it is perceived that farmers could maximize on their produce and also potentially increase their revenue in the process. Indeed, research carried out by International Potato Centre (CIP) on sweet potato productivity in developing countries found that value addition is an important post harvest need (Fuglie, 2007). Despite these documented initiatives and interests in the need for value addition, preliminary investigations as documented in a survey done by IDCCS in 2009 showed that majority of smallholder sweet potato farmers in Rachuonyo south district had not embraced value addition. This study therefore, sought to examine factors that influence sweet potato value addition and value addition techniques being practised by smallholder farmers in Rachuonyo south district. 

Objectives of the study 
The main objective of the study was to contribute to increase in smallholder farmers‟ incomes through sweet potato value addition in Rachuonyo south district. 

The specific objectives were: 
1. To compare the socio economic characteristics of sweet potato value adders and non value adders; 
2. To establish different types of sweet potato value addition techniques practiced by the smallholders; 
3. To examine the factors influencing sweet potato value addition amongst the smallholder farmers. 

Research questions 
1. What are the socio economic characteristics of both sweet potato value adders and non value adders in Rachuonyo south district? 
2. What are the different levels of sweet potato value addition practiced by the smallholder sweet potato farmers in Rachuonyo south district? 
3. What are the factors influencing sweet potato value addition in Rachuonyo south district? 

Justification of the study 
Change in weather patterns and the need to diversify away from over reliance on maize as staple food has seen sweet potato gain prominence among smallholder farmers. In essence, sweet potato has inevitably become an important food crop for both domestic and commercial use. (Odendo and Ndolo,2002; Kaguongo et al., 2010). Considering the prominent role sweet potato is gaining in the national diet, it is necessary for farmers to engage in post harvest activities which will increase the utility of the sweet potato (Odendo and Ndolo, 2002). It is therefore hoped that the findings of this study will provide impetus on policy discussions about sweet potato value addition especially with regard to rural smallholder sweet potato farmer. 

Scope and limitations 
This study was confined to smallholder sweet potato farmers in Rachuonyo south district. The study was carried out between May to August 2010 and a total of 200 smallholder sweet potato farmers from both Kabondo and Kasipul divisions participated by being interviewed or filling a questionnaire. Data collected comprised farm, farmer, market and institutional characteristics. It should be noted that both the chosen geographical and physical locations of the 
farmers limit the generalisability of the findings, however, the study‟s overall findings could be of value to future research endeavors in particular, replication studies in other rural areas.

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Item Type: Kenyan Topic  |  Size: 52 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
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