THE INFLUENCE OF DRYLAND FARMING TECHNOLOGIES ON HOUSEHOLD FOOD SECURITY AMONG SMALL-SCALE FARMERS IN KYUSO SUB-COUNTY, KITUI COUNTY, KENYA

ABSTRACT
Food insecurity remains a major challenge among the small-scale farmers in Kyuso Sub- County. Though the Ministry of Agriculture has been training small-scale farmers on various dryland farming technologies, Kyuso Sub-County has remained food insecure. This is evidenced by the fact that small-scale farmers in the Sub-County depend on food aid for their survival. The role played by the dryland farming technologies in ensuring household food security among the small-scale farmers has not been studied and documented. Consequently dryland farming technologies that could effectively help alleviate food insecurity in Kyuso Sub-County are not known. Agricultural productivity has thus continued to be low and since food aid availability is not guaranteed throughout the year, this exposes farmers to recurrent food insecurity. The purpose of this study was to identify dryland farming technologies that could be effectively used to alleviate food insecurity in Kyuso Sub-County. The study was carried out in Kamuongo Ward of Kyuso Sub-County. The ward had a population of 2,629 households. Proportionate and systematic random sampling procedures were used to select a sample of 140 respondents. Further samples of 12 farmers were selected purposively from each of the three villages in the study area, to participate in Focus Group Discussion (FGD). Thus the total sample size of 176 farmers participated in the study. Two instruments were used to collect data: a Focus Group Discussion Guide and a questionnaire. Validity of the instruments was ensured through examination by both experts and colleagues. Cronbach Alpha Reliability coefficient value of 0.795 was obtained after pilot testing the questionnaire. Data was analyzed by use of both descriptive and inferential statistics. The multiple linear regression model was used to test levels of influence among study variables at 0.05 level of significance. Results of the study showed that most of the farmers in the study area were female; most popular soil conservation technology was fanya juu terraces. Use of farmyard manure was found to be the most preferred method of soil fertility improvement. The level of millet and sorghum production was low with most farmers in the Sub-County due to high bird infestation. The results further revealed that soil and water conservation, rainwater harvesting, soil fertility improvement and production of drought tolerant crops (millet and sorghum) did not significantly influence household food security in Kyuso Sub-County.

CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
Background of the Study
Improved food security in the dry land areas of the world has become an important issue of concern both nationally and internationally (Witsenburg, 2012). This is because a large part of the surface of the world is arid, characterized as too dry for conventional rain fed agriculture. Yet, millions of people live in such regions. Trends in population increase indicate that there will soon be millions more. These people must eat, and the wisest course for them is to produce their own food (Creswell & Martin, 1998). Crop production in dryland areas must be improved to help meet the requirements of the growing world population. A major contribution to this improvement will be the capture and use of a greater portion of the limited and highly variable precipitation in dryland areas. Dryland farming technologies including water and soil conservation and management can increase water use efficiency, thus increasing yields and reducing the likelihood of crop failure (Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 2008a).

The majority of the population in sub-Saharan Africa make their living from rain-fed agriculture. They depend to a large extent on small-scale, subsistence farming for their food security. In Kenya 85 % of her population derive their livelihood from rain-fed subsistence agriculture (Rockström, 2000). More than three-quarters of Kenya's land is arid or semi- arid with 3.2 million food insecure affected marginal farmers and agro pastoralists living in the arid and semi-arid Sub-Counties of eastern Kenya (FAO, 2009). Jan (2007) contends that even after decades of modern agricultural research, the small-scale farmer in most parts of Kenya is still poor. He adds that the small scale farmer still operates a largely traditional technology to meet subsistence needs. If agricultural research is to help the small-scale farmer, there must be a selective emphasis on technology appropriate for the typical small-farm situation of scarce financial resources and poor access to information (Jan, 2007).

Kenya’s agriculture in arid and semi-arid areas is predominantly small-scale. Production is carried out on farms averaging 0.2–3 ha and without irrigation. Farms are generally small, and in most cases are suffering from a degradation of resources and the environment. The small-scale farmers in Kyuso Sub-County can be described as being resource-poor and subsistence-based. Since these dryland comprise 84 % of Kenya’s land mass (GOK, 2010 ) there is huge potential for increasing productivity for these farmers with adoption of modern farming practices including irrigation and dryland farming technologies (Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), 2009).

The major purpose of dryland farming technologies is to conserve soil, water and nutrients for the purposes of crop production (Gichuki, 2000). Soil erosion is the process of detachment of soil particles from the top soil and transportation of the detached soil particles by wind and / or water. The agents causing erosion are wind and water. The detaching agents are falling raindrop, channel flow and wind. The transporting agents are flowing water, rain splash and wind (Mutunga, Critchley, Lameck, Lwakuba, & Mburu, 2001). According to Douglas (1994) when land suffers from soil erosion and degradation, it loses its productivity. He explains soil degradation as the decline in the productive capacity of the soil as a result of soil erosion and changes in hydrological, biological, chemical and physical properties. Gichuki (2000) states that land degradation can result from inappropriate land use and poor land management. He adds that investments in soil management can be justified on the basis of sustaining and improving land productivity.

Soils in semi-arid areas are generally fragile and of low inherent producing capacity. The objectives of soil management are to maximise the limited water supply, maximise plant nutrient supply, minimise erosion, and maintain or improve soil fertility and soil physical conditions (Mati, 2006). Water and soil nutrient management form a critical component of agricultural production. In the drylands water and nutrient conservation are dictated by the need for water harvesting and conservation and the available technology (Mutunga, et al., 2001). Soil and water conservation technologies consist of activities that minimise water losses by runoff and evaporation, while at the same time maximizing soil moisture storage for crop production. On the other hand rain water harvesting is a deliberate effort made to transfer runoff water from a catchment to the desired area or storage structure (Mati, 2006).

Sorghum and millet have been noted as staple food grains in many arid and semi-arid lands of the world, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa because of their good adaptation to hard environments and their good yield of production (Mukarumbwa, 2009). Taylor, Schober and Bean (2006) describe sorghum and millet as generally the most drought-tolerant cereal grain crops that require little input during growth and with increasing world populations and decreasing water supplies, represent important crops for future human use. There is an urgent need to promote drought tolerant crops that are relevant to the small-scale farmers and poor consumers in the semi-arid lands. This can be through the production of sorghum and millet because they are adaptable to these environments.

The food supply situation in Kenya has been a cause for concern. According to the Ministry of Agriculture (2009), over 10 million people suffer from chronic food insecurity and poor nutrition. It is estimated that at any one time, about two million people in the country require food assistance (MOA, 2009). The long rains season in Kenya (March- May), which normally accounts for 80 % of total annual food production, has been failing over the years leading to severe drought, and widespread crop failures in the arid and semi- arid areas of Eastern and North Eastern counties of Kenya (Kaloi, Tayebwa, & Bashaasha, 2005). Kyuso Sub-County lies in Kitui County in the drylands classified as arid and semiarid lands and receives low and unreliable rainfall of between 250 and 780 mm per year (Government of Kenya [GOK], 2009). The Sub-County suffers from food insecurity which is linked to declining agricultural productivity and general poverty. Drought as a natural cause is the main problem. Kyuso Sub-County has been under relief emergency operation from 2004 to date, with varying proportions of the population, as a result of either crop failure or low crop production. They are unable to sustain their households from one season to the next (Kenya Food Security Steering Group [KFSSG], 2011).

The agriculture sector remains the engine of growth of the Kyuso Sub-County economy. Over 85% of the Sub-County population is engaged in activities in the agriculture and livestock production subsector, making the sector the largest employer and by extension the largest contributor to household incomes. Specifically, an estimated 98% of households are engaged in crop farming in the Sub-County (GOK, 2012). The agriculture and livestock production activities in the Sub-County are dependent on rainfall, which is inadequate and unreliable, often resulting to droughts. This explains why the Sub-County has continued to be vulnerable due to climatic shocks, food insecure and characterized by high level of endemic poverty.

The World Food Summit of 1996 defined food security as existing “when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life” (FAO, 1996). Commonly, the concept of food security is defined as including both physical and economic access to food that meets people's dietary needs as well as their food preferences (World Health Organization [WHO], 2011). Food insecurity in a household is a combination of two distinct problems which includes acquirement and utilization. Acquirement refers to the ability of a household and its members to acquire enough food through production, exchange or transfer (International Fund for Agricultural Development [IFAD], 2007). Nearly 900 million people in 70 lower income countries are food insecure either temporary or chronic, and the situation could grow worse in the poorest countries. The broader reasons for it are poverty, population growth, environmental degradation, limited agricultural technology, ineffective policies, and disease (United States Department of Agriculture [USDA], 2010).

The Ministry of Agriculture has made efforts to promote dryland farming technologies in Kyuso Sub-County (MOA, 2011). These technologies include soil and water conservation, water harvesting, soil fertility improvement through compost and farmyard manure application and use of ecologically correct crop varieties (Mati, 2006). The crop varieties promoted in the Sub-County include: pearl millet, sorghum, green grams, cowpeas and pigeon peas (MOA, 2011). Reports by the Ministry of Agriculture (2011) indicate that while farmers have widely adopted the drought tolerant legumes, they have a problem with the cereals. Wide spread planting of maize crop which is not drought tolerant compared to millet and sorghum is believed to be one of the sources of household food insecurity in the Sub-County (KFSSG, 2011). Often farmers face acute food shortage due to failure to harvest in consecutive seasons during which period most farmers rely on relief food for sustenance. Whereas food aid has played a key role in saving lives in the Sub-County during times of extreme drought and famine, it has had a negative impact of creating a dependence syndrome among farmers (GOK, 2009). Dependency syndrome is known to limit creativity and hence maintain the status quo of food insecurity. Investments in dryland farming techniques in semi-arid regions lead to immediate and perceptible yield increases and contribute to reducing rural poverty (Reij & Steeds, 2003).

Statement of the Problem
In the arid and semiarid areas dryland farming technologies are key to achieving food security. The Government has implemented food security programmes promoting dryland farming technologies in Kyuso. Though the Ministry of Agriculture and other stakeholders have over the years been sensitizing and training small-scale farmers on various dryland farming technologies, Kyuso Sub-County has remained food insecure. This is evidenced by the fact that small scale farmers in the Sub-County depend on food aid for their survival. Agricultural productivity has thus continued to be low and since food aid availability is not guaranteed throughout the year, this exposes farmers to recurrent food insecurity. The influence of dryland farming technologies in alleviating food insecurity in the Sub-County has neither been studied nor documented. Therefore dryland farming technologies that may effectively help alleviate food insecurity are not known. This study aimed at bridging that gap.

Purpose of the Study
The purpose of the study was to identify dryland farming technologies that could be effectively used to alleviate household food insecurity of small-scale farmers in Kyuso Sub-County.

Objectives of the Study
The following objectives guided the study:-

(i) To determine the demographic characteristics of the small-scale farmers Kyuso Sub- County employing dryland farming technologies.

(ii) To examine the influence of soil and water conservation on household food security of small scale farmers in Kyuso Sub-County.

(iii) To assess the influence of rainwater harvesting on household food security of small- scale farmers in Kyuso Sub-County.

(iv) To establish influence of soil fertility improvement on household food security of small-scale farmers in Kyuso Sub-County.

(v) To establish the influence of growing drought tolerant crops on household food security of small- scale farmers in Kyuso Sub-County.

Hypothesis of the Study
The following null hypotheses were tested for their validity:-

Ho1: There is no statistically significant influence of soil and water conservation on household food security among small-scale farmers in Kyuso Sub-County.

Ho2: There is no statistically significant influence of rain water harvesting on household food security among small-scale farmers in Kyuso Sub-County.

Ho3: There is no statistically significant influence of soil fertility improvement on household food security among small-scale farmers in Kyuso Sub-County.

Ho4: There is no statistically significant influence of drought tolerant crops on household food security among small-scale farmers in Kyuso Sub-County.

Significance of the Study
This study investigated the contributions of different dryland farming technologies to household food security. The study would inform extension officers on the best dryland farming approaches to facilitate enhanced food security at household level. Implementation of the recommendations could enhance high food production by the small- scale farmers in the Sub-County therefore increasing household food security and higher incomes.

Findings may inform policy makers to adjust the on-going programs geared towards food security. Policy makers may be faced with the decision to avail improved, appropriate and affordable dryland farming technologies to ensure household food security for small-scale farmers. Since implementation of dryland farming technologies requires resources, policy makers may be faced with the requirement to expand both on and off-farm income activities for people living in rural areas. Agricultural technology development of these household may need to focus beyond yield enhancement and address other features that complement the household need to allocate labour to other off farm employment activities. Improved crop production not only ensures food security at household level but may also require marketing infrastructure to enable farmers to sell surplus produce.

Scope of the Study
The study was conducted in Kyuso Sub-County. It targeted small-scale farmers in Kamuongo Ward whose main economic activity is in agriculture and dependent on their farms as their main source of income. Dryland farming technologies namely soil and water conservation, rain water harvesting for crop production, soil fertility improvement and production of drought tolerant crops (sorghum and millet) were studied in relation to their influence on household food security.

Limitations of the Study
The following factors were identified as limitations to the study:-

(i) Most of the small-scale farmers did not keep proper records therefore information on cultivated land and yields were estimates and could have been affected by memory gap.

(ii) Since the study was confined to Kamuongo Ward, the findings from this research may only be generalized to wards with similar characteristics.

Assumption of the Study
The study was conducted under the following assumptions:-

(i) The respondents fully understood the questions they were asked.

(ii) Information provided by the small-scale farmers was accurate and reliable.

For more Agricultural Extension Projects Click here
===================================================================
Item Type: Kenyan Material  |  Attribute: 88 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Price: KSh900  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.
===================================================================

Share:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Search for your topic here

See full list of Project Topics under your Department Here!

Featured Post

HOW TO WRITE A RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS

A hypothesis is a description of a pattern in nature or an explanation about some real-world phenomenon that can be tested through observ...

Popular Posts