Agriculture is the backbone of Kenyan economy contributing to both Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and export earnings. The Ministry of Agriculture plays a key role in bringing farmers together and educates them on food production practices through various approaches. The Common Interest Groups is one of the extension approaches where farmers with similar interests are brought together for the purpose of imparting technologies. One of the major production areas promoted by extension agents is High Value Traditional Crops (HVTCs). This study was necessary because promotion of the crops are done and for many years picked by farmers who form Common Interest Groups (CIGs) in Miwani division. While other farmers grow HVTCs individually, group formation is common among those farmers with similar interest. CIGformation has been consistentsince the initiation of CIG approachbut the reason for the consistency is not known. This raises question whether there is any difference in productivity of HVTCs among CIG and non CIG members hence the need for this study.The data generated may add to new knowledge and be used by development planners, policies makers to improve on CIG approach. This study was undertaken in Miwani division, Muhoroni Sub-County with purpose of comparing productivity of HVTCs among CIG and non CIG members. Guided by the theory of Symbolic Social Interaction, this study was conducted through cross-sectional survey research design on 120 respondents from 15 high value traditional crops CIGs in Miwani division and 120 non-CIGs in Nyando division selected through proportionate sampling and simple random sampling techniques. Data was collected by use of questionnaires and interview guide and analyzed through descriptive statistics to determine whether there was difference in productivity of HVTCs between CIG and non-CIG members. The study findings indicated difference between HVTCs CIG and non-CIG members characterized by increase in level of technical knowledge, yields, incomes and adoption of high value traditional crops. In conclusion, those in CIGs benefited more than non-CIG members by the virtue of being in CIGs and by them participating in CIG activities. The study recommends that, the approach should be part of the extension system but with some modifications in its implementation.

Background Information
Globally, Agriculture extension plays a vital role in the economy through sharing and imparting agricultural knowledge and technologies with farmers. Also globally, half of the hungry people are smallholder farmers who are in the marginal areas and own less than two acres of land. The world food shortages can be eliminated by increasing food and agricultural production in both developed and developing countries. Worldwide, the attraction to smallholder farmers lies in the economic efficiency relative to large farms and the fact that they can create large amounts of productive employment. Improvement in production is needed because one person out of seven still suffers from chronic or acute hunger. International investment in high value traditional crops (HVTCs) in the past has been negligible even though they are critical for feeding world most disadvantaged regions as reported by International Program for Agriculture Systems (INTERPAKS,2006). HVTCs are crops such as cassava, sweet potatoes, sorghum, arrowroots and local vegetables are cheap to produce and can survive adverse conditions and their planting materials can be locally obtained.

High value traditional crops are crops that arevalued culturally, and are often adapted to harsh environments. They are nutritious and can grow in a wide range of climatic conditions, and are targets for food security in Kenya and other parts of the world. High value traditional crops currently cover 250 million hectares in developing countries and play an important role in regional and national food security because they can improve productive capacity of land. Smallholder farmers in the rural communities produce the bulk of the regional food requirements, yet their production system has many limitations including poor access to information on improved production technology. In Sub-Saharan Africa, high value traditional crops are more important than cash crops both in area and in their contribution to the diet (INTERPAKS, 2010).

In Kenya,smallholder farmers produce most of their own food and also contribute about 68% of the nation’s total marketed output. As a result, agricultural production is often for subsistence and productivity levels tend to stagnate or sometimes decline. In Kenya,Agriculture extension

plays an important role in enhancing farmers’ collective capacitiesto improve orphan crops productivity. Agriculture is a key sector for achieving economic advancement and poverty alleviation among Kenyans most of who are crops or livestock farmers. Most Kenyans derive their livelihoods from agriculture which is a base for economic growth, employment creation, and foreign exchange generation as recorded by Ministry of Agriculture (MOA, 2005). Agriculture growth is crucial to Kenya’s economic and social development because it contributes about 26% and 27% Gross Domestic Product (GDP) through linkages with manufacturing, distribution and related sectors. Agriculture’s contribution to GDP enhances food security and reduces poverty as compared to GDP originating outside agriculture. This is because agriculture directly contributes to over 24 percent of Kenya’s GDP through manufacturing, distribution and service related sectors. Also very important is that agriculture sector employs over 80 percent of Kenya’s workforce both directly and indirectly as indicated by Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (MOALF) (2007). Agricultural extension service therefore is critical in the transformation of subsistence farming to more profitable agriculture through different approaches to enhance food security in Kenya.Agriculture is directly linked to poverty eradication, sustainable consumption and production of agricultural commodities.

Food is critical to the economic and social development to both smallholder and large scale farmers who struggle to improve on production. Majority of Kenyan farmers engage in production of cash crops and as a result ignore HVTCs which play an important role in feeding the world’s population. This together with climate change, poor choice of crops and different extension approaches has resulted in complex production system. The crops produced and the approach used has manifested itself in many ways such as abandonment and low yields resulting in famine and hunger. Though the responsibility of improving agricultural productivity has been bestowed upon extension services, extension agents experience various constraints including financial constraints hence the need to develop and use a cost effective extension approach such as working through groups. The current diversification of needs and the reduced resources of the public extension system, led to a proliferation of alternative extension approaches (MOA, 2005)

One such approach in extension services is Common Interest Group (CIG) approach which aims at improving adoption of innovations and productivity based on a model of total human development because members of all categories are fully involved in the process.

The aim of initiating CIG approach was to enable extension agents to reach as many farmers as possible at any given time and to enhance farmers’ collective capacities to improve their economic and social status by increased productivity (MOA, 2001). Extension brings all farmers together to a learning point through promotion of opportunities in farming. One of the production areas being promoted by the MOA is High Value Traditional Crops because of their importance. Although the HVTCs are vital for the livelihoods of millions of resource poor persons and are locally important, they have received considerably less or no attention by public and private extension services because investments were centered in widely consumed crops that are traded internationally such as rice, coffee and wheat (Henry, 2005). High value traditional crops production in Kenya between the year 2002 and 2005 kept on changing by some crops increasing in production and acreages while for some there were decrease and increase as years went by. According to MOA (2006), sorghum actual production had been declining in some areas despite the great potential to produce the crop. The significant drop was attributed to poor weather conditions. As for local vegetables, there was a downward trend in hectare between 2004 and 2005.

Despite the downward trend in hectaresfor vegetables production as indicated,yields has been increasing in the subsequentyears because of tapped technology and much effort put by farmers. The members of HVTCs are expected to tap and acquire knowledge, technologies and skills delivered through the common interest group approach for productivity of HVTCs in Miwani division and nationally. CIGs in Miwani division have been in operation since the year 2002 and the number of interested farmers in HVTCs production has been consistently registered over the years (MOA, 2007). This made it necessary to compare adoption of HVTCs between CIG and non-CIG members. The reason for the study was to establish the difference in adoption of HVTCs between CIG and non-CIG members in Miwani division.

Statement of the Problem
The world food shortages can be eliminated by increasing food and agricultural production. This can be done through application of modern technology, common interest groups and reviving High Value Traditional crops(HVTCs). Since the initiation of the Common Interest Group(CIG) approach in the year 2002, the Ministry of Agriculture’s focus in Miwani division has been on promotion of high value traditional crops through CIGs. There was formation of HVTCs common interest groups in every promotion which indicated their interest in HVTCs.

Despite a lot of efforts put in promoting and formation of the HVTCs as means of increasing food production, it is not clear whether there is difference in productivity of HVTCs between CIG and non-CIGs members. Groups have been associated with fast spread effect, however comparison between common interest group and non-CIG members on productivity of high value traditional crops among smallholder farmers is not known, hence the need to conduct the study.

Purpose of the Study
The purpose of the study was to determinewhether there is difference in high value traditional crops productivity between CIG and non-CIG members in Miwani Division, Muhoroni Sub- County.

Objectives of the Study
The objectives of the study were to:

i. Determine the level of technical knowledge acquired on high value traditional crops production among CIG and non-CIG members in Miwani division.

ii. Asses adoption of high value traditional crops among CIG and non-CIG members in Miwani division.

iii. Establish the yields of highvalue traditional crops among CIG and non-CIG members in Miwani division.

iv. Determine the level of marketing of high value traditional crops among CIG and non-CIG members in Miwani division.

v. Describeperceptions of CIG members about the CIG approach on adoption ofhigh value traditional crops among CIG members in Miwani division.
Research Questions

i. What is the level of technical knowledge on HVTCs production between CIG and non-CIG members in Miwani division?

ii. What is the rate of adoption of HVTCs among CIG and non-CIG members in Miwani division?

iii. What are the yields of HVTCs among CIG and non-CIG members in Miwani division?

iv. What is the level of marketing of HVTCs among CIG and non-CIG members?

v. What is the perception of CIG members about CIG approach on adoption of HVTCs among CIG members in Miwani division?

Significance of the Study
The findings of the study may assist policy makers to review policies on interventions that can promote production of HVTCs. Development plannersmay use the findingsto put in place plans that would improve the CIG approach. Donors may also use the findings in formulating proper and sound strategies to improve the common interest group approach with the aim of increasing HVTCs production efficiency. The findings of the study may also add new knowledge to the existing common interest groups literature and as a reference material to help extension agents and general farmers to plan activities that use CIG approach more effectively.

Scope of the Study
The study was carried out in all the three locations of Miwani division namely; North East Kano, Ombeyi and Nyangoma in Miwani division (Now Masogo, Nyangoma and Ombeyi wards). The study covered CIG members in Miwani division and non-CIG members in Nyando division nowAwasi, Onjiko, Katolo and Kochogo Wards) who grow high value traditional crops (HVTCs) such as sweet potatoes, cassava, local vegetables, sorghum and arrow roots. The study investigated the influence of common interest group approach on HVTCs productivity in the context of adoption, yields, technical knowledge and marketing among smallholder farmers in Miwani division.

The assumptions were;

i) That all the sampled respondents will be within reach.

ii) That the sampled farmers would be willing to respond accordingly without holding answers.

The following limitations were anticipated:

1. That study would be affected by poor road networks which would make the area inaccessible and slow data collection process. To collect data in the area, the researcher used motor bikes as means of transport while some areas, the researcher walked to the group members to collect data in time.

ii) That some of the respondents were illiterate and wouldnot able to give information on their own. For the illiterate, the researcher administered questionnaires through interviews.

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