Horticultural sector is an important sector in production of food and generation of income. According to Kenya‘s vision 2030, crop cultivation is one of the main pillars of unlocking the potential of Kenya through increased productivity. The importance of snow peas is increasing greatly due to its high demand especially in Europe. In spite of the benefits associated with the production of snow peas, farmers in Nyandarua county have been withdrawing from its production probably due to low profitability. Profitability can be founded in technical inefficiencies. Studies on technical efficiency of snow peas are limited. This study was aimed at determining the level of efficiency of small scale farmers in Nyandarua County and categorizing them into two categories on the basis of their efficiency. The study also determined the impact of snow peas production by comparing adopters and dis-adopters in terms of their annual income, assets and expenditure. The study was conducted in Kinangop sub-County, Kenya in three wards Engineer, Gathara and Kinangop whose main economic activity is farming. The study utilized multiple stage sampling method where 267 samples were collected. A structured questionnaire was used to solicit information on socio-economic, institution, market and physical factors from small scale snow peas farmers. Stochastic frontier, and tobit regression models and propensity score matching were used to analyse the data. Stata and Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) software were used for the purpose. Results showed a wide variation between the most efficient farmer and the less efficient farmer. The efficiency scores ranged from 0.3 to 0.9 with a mean of 0.7 which means, farmers can reduce input application by 30% without affecting output. The study found that what characterized farmers in the first cluster of most efficient farmers were; high level of annual income, many years of experience in farming and fewer years in formal education. Again, the study revealed that the most efficient farmers came from Gathara and Engineer wards. It was noted that being in on-farm activities alone as compared to being in both on-farm and off-farm activities increased the level of efficiency of snow peas farming. Receiving extension services and having a higher level of annual income had a positive effect on the level of technical efficiency. In addition, more years in formal education was depicted to have a negative relationship with efficiency. Impact assessment results indicated that participating farmers had high levels of annual income, assets and expenditure compared to non-participating farmers. Due to the role played by snow peas production in improving the welfare of farmers, they should not withdraw from its cultivation but should rather enhance technical efficiency by forming snow peas farmers group and seek extension services concerning snow peas growing.

For centuries, agriculture has been playing a crucial role in the development of nations. Agriculture can stimulate faster growth, reduce poverty as well as sustaining the environment if it is allowed to partner with other sectors of the economy. As an economic activity Agriculture can be a provider of investment opportunities for the private sector, a source of growth for the national economy and a main driver of agricultural related industries and the rural nonfarm economy (Awokuse and Xie 2015). 

Kenya produces a wide variety of horticultural commodities. They are produced from major horticultural production areas, situated in different parts of the country. Most production is rain-fed, but irrigated products are also cultivated especially if production is for export purposes. Vegetables and fruits are grown both for household consumption and sale while cut flowers are only cultivated for commercial purposes (Kamau, 2017; Ministry of Agriculture, 2010). Majority of horticultural commodities meet domestic demand, but some are exported to overseas markets (Salami, Kamara, and Brixiova, 2010; Rutere, 2014). 

The horticultural sector is therefore important as a producer of food, source of income, employment, and foreign exchange. According to the vision 2030, crop cultivation is one of the main pillars of unlocking the potential of Kenya through increased productivity of crops (Nguguna, Kamau and Owino, 2009; Ndung'u, Adam and Collier, 2011). The horticultural sub-sector has grown since to become a major pillar of economic growth. The horticulture industry is the fastest growing agricultural sub-sector and is ranked third in terms of foreign exchange earnings from exports after tourism and tea (KNBS, 2013; Kamau, 2017). 

Snow peas (Pisum sativa var. saccharatum) is a high-value crop typically grown in temperate regions (Ferrarezi, Weiss, Geiger, and Beamer, 2016). Despite being moderate to low yielders, snow peas have been continually grown for thousands of years due to their favourable eating qualities and their ability to improve the soil. Snow peas were introduction to the Kenyan agricultural sector but their adoption by the farmers has been relatively slow due to the challenges experienced during the production and marketing processes. However, their importance has increased greatly due to their high demand especially in Europe (Weinberger and Lumpkin 2007). 

Central Kenya offers favourable ecological conditions for production of peas. Production is mostly carried out by small scale farmers who are contracted by exporters (Mburu, Muriithi and Mutinda J. 2017). Most of them lack basic knowledge of producing them as well as capital for production and export opportunities (Davis, 2006). The industry is therefore characterized by brokers and middlemen who place farmers at a disadvantaged place in terms of prices and other benefits that should be associated in the entire value chain (Odero, Mburu, Ackello-Ogutu and Nderitu, 2013). This could be possibly explained by the nature of peas. Owing to its perishable nature, brokers take advantage of the farmers by buying the products at low price on realizing they have already harvested. This could therefore be one of the major reasons why the adoption of snow peas has been slow in Kenya. Beside this dilemma, the market for snow peas has also been unstable due the consistent fluctuation in prices. This has discouraged farmers from investing in the venture (Rugenyi, 2011). 

The major snow peas production areas are Nyandarua, Nyeri, Kirinyaga and Meru Counties where varieties such as dwarf grey sugar, Oregon sugar pod, mommoth melting sugar, sugar snap sweet horizon, snow wind and Toledo are grown. Picking of snow peas begins 60 to 70 days after sowing and continues for about 2 months. Snow peas produce best yields and quality in cool and moist growing conditions. The crop is sensitive to heat. Ideal growing conditions are average daily temperatures of 12-20 ºC with a maximum of 24 ºC and minimum 7 ºC. Peas can be grown on a wide range of soil types, provided the soil is well drained. Good drainage is essential for vigorous growth. They do well in well distributed rainfall of 1,555-2,200 mm per year at an altitude of 1,500-2,600 above sea level. Snow peas, as most legumes, prefer a soil pH range of 6.0 to 7.0. The minimum soil temperature for growth is 10 °C. Due to these climatic condition requirements, they are suited for the highland regions of Kenya (Kimiti, Odee, and Vanlauwe, 2012). 

Being an export crop, higher quality standards are required. This has been a challenge to small scale farmers (Mburu et al., 2017). This is because snow peas crop is highly susceptible to many pests like aphids and whiteflies. Furthermore, during the wet seasons, the crop is normally attacked by downy mildew and powdery mildew during the dry season. However, disease pressure is generally higher during the rainy seasons. If there is no effective disease and pest control mechanisms, quality is greatly lowered because farmers are forced to use chemicals to control the pests and diseases (Kamau, 2017). This may again translate to lower prices and great losses to farmers. 

Despite the potential of peas, its productivity has remained low in the country. Peas yield 1560kg/acre against a potential of 3000kg/acre. Since production is largely rain fed, climatic change has affected productivity greatly. Cases of crop failure resulting from crop destruction by pest and diseases are reported frequently. As a result, farmers are forced to use more inputs such as fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. Use of more inputs on the other hand increases the cost of production (MoALF, 2016). 

Due to the high cost of the routine management practices such as planting, weeding, trellising, pesticide control, disease control, sorting and grading, high amount of capital is required and if these ventures do not bring back proportionate returns, farmers are discouraged to grow snow peas production in the subsequent seasons. High cost of production could also be founded on inefficiencies in the use of resources. (Riatania et al., 2014). It therefore becomes essential to understand the efficiency with which these farmers combine the inputs given the state of the technology to maximize profit. Improving efficiency increases the productivity, welfare of households and the general economic growth hence it‘s crucial for any policy (Coelli and Rao, 2005) Much empirical evidence suggests that although producers may attempt to optimize, they do not always succeed. This is because even after the introduction of a new technology, it may take a long time before adoption and the subsequent learning of how to use it efficiently (Shumet, 2011)....

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