Agriculture continues to be the key driver of the Kenyan economy. However, the sector faces challenges in production due to frequent and prolonged droughts. This calls for farmers to adopt more drought-tolerant crops like cassava. Cassava farmers face a number of socio- economic and institutional factors that influence their production decisions. This study sought to contribute to improved food security of smallholder farmers in rural areas by improving production policies through determining the socio-economic and institutional factors influencing smallholder farmers‘ participation in cassava production in Msambweni Sub-County of Kwale County. The specific objectives included: to characterize the production systems and farmers in Msambweni Sub-County; to determine the socio-economic and institutional factors influencing cassava production decisions in Msambweni Sub-County and to determine the area under cassava production in relation to other food crop enterprises in Msambweni Sub-County. In this regard, data was collected from 186 farmers selected proportionately from Vanga, Kikoneni/Pongwe and Dzombo Wards in Msambweni using face-to-face interviews. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze data for objective 1. The data for objective 2 and 3 were analyzed using Heckman model while data for objective 4 were analyzed using analysis of variance (ANOVA). The Statistical Package for Social Scientists (SPSS), Excel and STATA programs were used to process and summarize the data. Among the Socio-Economic factors, farm size positively influenced participation in cassava production whereas education level and age negatively influence participation in cassava production. Among the institutional factors, production and market information, storage facility and access to cuttings positively influence participation in cassava production whereas group membership and means of transport negatively influence participation in cassava production. Access to information and group membership had a positive influence while Gender of household head had a negative influence on extent of cassava production. The study recommends that the policy makers consider policies that encourage the following aspects: improved education and training among farmers to increase their capacity to engage in cassava production profitably. As land seemed to be a limiting factor, intercropping cassava with other food crops should be encouraged so as to fully and intensively utilize the land resource. Farmer Group empowerment and development should be encouraged as they are easy conduits for seed/cuttings distribution and training.

Background to the Study 
Kenya‘s economic growth has for a long time depended on agriculture. As such, the country‘s long-term development blueprint, Vision 2030 singles out agriculture as one of the key sectors to deliver sustainable economic growth and improved livelihoods for the poor in the rural areas. However, the sector faces several endemic and emerging constraints at the global, regional and national levels that require special attention. During the first two decades after independence, Kenya‘s economy grew at an average rate of 6 percent per year substantially driven by a robust agricultural sector (Ministry of Agriculture, 2009). However, until about six years ago, the overall economy barely grew, partly as a result of a decline in agricultural activities. Despite experiencing mixed results over the years, agriculture still remains the mainstay of the Kenyan economy, its share of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) declining from 23 percent in 2007 to 22 per cent of real GDP in 2010 (KNBS, 2010). The current share is 26 percent (KNBS, 2012). The agricultural sector however continues to face challenges in production due to frequent and prolonged droughts both regionally and globally. Drought is perhaps the most prevalent abiotic stress affecting plant growth, survival and productivity in the world. The effect of drought is more pronounced in the Semi-Arid Tropics, where rainfall is generally low and erratic in distribution over time and space. The current situation in Kenya where many areas are receiving below-average rainfall attests to this. The drastic effects of drought and the resultant food insecurity can be overcome by growing crops that are drought tolerant like cassava. 

Cassava (Manihot esculenta) is one of the most popular root crops grown in Africa. It is relatively easy to cultivate, needing very little cultural attention. Many soils are used for growing cassava but high tuber yield can only be obtained in friable and light soils. The soils should be deep, not stony nor water-logged. Cassava is exhaustive of potassium (Ministry of Agriculture, 2012). Cassava value chain is promising with many business opportunities; the main challenge is the mass supply of tuber roots that can satisfy human, animal and industrial needs. Cassava, as well as the rest of agriculture faces production and marketing limitations that significantly impede the country‘s overall economic growth and development (Elise, 2012). Cassava has many uses but largely, it is used for three main purposes – human food, animal feed and starch making (FAO, 1995). Some of its products are; boiled cassava, cassava crisps, cassava chapati, Kimanga, cassava porridge, cassava ugali, cassava mandazi and cassava cake (Ministry of Agriculture, 2012). Cassava stalks are used as seed, wood fuel and as fencing materials while the leaves may be used as vegetables and hay. Industrial uses of cassava include use in animal feed making and making of industrial starch. Its consumption closely follows the global pattern of output, since most of it is consumed in the countries where it is grown. Furthermore, FAO (1995) indicates that although in the early 1990‘s a very large part of the cassava output was used directly as human food, its share has continuously declined since then. On the other hand, cassava consumption as animal feed and starch-making has continued to increase since the early 1990‘s. While total food consumption of all crops has risen considerably during the past 40 years, world consumption of cassava as food has remained stagnant, mainly because it is regarded in many countries as a poor man‘s food, though it can go a long way in relieving the consumption pressure on cereal crops like maize and rice.....

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Item Type: Kenyan Topic  |  Size: 79 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.


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