Commercialization of Smallholder Horticultural Farming in Kenya

Poverty, Gender, and Institutional Arrangements

by Beatrice Wambui Muriithi (Author)
©2014 Thesis 278 Pages


This study assesses income and poverty effects of vegetable commercialization in Kenya with a special focus on gender issues and evaluates the performance of institutional arrangements that link small producers to the high-value vegetable supply chains. Using econometrics analysis of two rounds of rural household survey, the study reveals that the participation of smallholders in the domestic and export vegetable markets is declining. Weather risks, high costs of inputs and unskilled labour as well as erratic vegetable prices contribute to the declining trend. The impact evaluation of market participation reveals that households supplying the export market have a higher per capita income. The examination of gender roles indicates that the improvement of land productivity and the promotion of women’s access to agricultural training and extension services might enhance their market participation. The analysis of vegetable contractual arrangements indicates that the governance structure is important to the profitability and hence the sustainability of farmer-trader relationships.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Acknowledgements
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Tables
  • List of Figures
  • Acronyms and abbreviations
  • Chapter One
  • 1 General Introduction
  • 1.1 Background and research problem
  • 1.2 Relevance of the horticultural sub-sector in the Kenyan economy
  • 1.3 The role of small-scale producers in the horticultural sub-sector
  • 1.4 Market pathways for commercialization of vegetables in Kenya
  • 1.5 Institutional, policy, legal and regulatory frameworks governing the horticultural sub-sector
  • 1.6 Research methods
  • 1.6.1 Study area
  • 1.6.2 Sampling method
  • 1.6.3 Data collection
  • Chapter Two
  • 2 Determinants and Constraints of Smallholder Participation in the Commercialization of Horticulture: An Application of Panel Data to Vegetable Producers in Kenya
  • 2.1 Introduction
  • 2.2 Theoretical and empirical review of determinants of the commercialization of smallholder horticultural farming
  • 2.3 Theoretical and conceptual frameworks
  • 2.4 Data and descriptive analysis
  • 2.4.1 Descriptive characterization of market pathways and their participants
  • 2.4.2 Dynamics of smallholder vegetable marketing pathways
  • 2.4.3 Characteristics of smallholder vegetable growers
  • 2.4.4 Measuring the extent of commercialization along different market pathways
  • 2.5 Empirical models
  • 2.5.1 Estimating the choice of market pathway and the extent of commercialization
  • 2.5.2 Estimating the dynamics of vegetable market participation decisions
  • 2.6 Econometric results
  • 2.6.1 Commercialization through the export market pathway
  • 2.6.2 Commercialization through the domestic market pathway
  • 2.6.3 Commercialization through the domestic and export markets jointly
  • 2.6.4 Dynamics of smallholder participation in the commercialization of horticulture
  • 2.7 Conclusions and policy implications
  • Appendix 2A: French bean export volumes
  • Appendix 2B: Characteristics of households by vegetable output market
  • Chapter Three
  • 3 Does Commercialization of Smallholder Horticulture Reduce Rural Poverty? Evidence from Household Panel Data in Kenya
  • 3.1 Introduction
  • 3.2 Literature review
  • 3.3 Analytical framework and estimation procedure
  • 3.3.1 Estimation procedure
  • 3.3.2 Estimation assuming that commercialization is exogenous
  • 3.3.3 Estimation controlling for self-selection to participation in commercialization
  • 3.4 Data and descriptive statistics
  • 3.4.1 Economic activities of smallholder vegetable producers
  • 3.4.2 Demographic and socio-economic characteristics
  • 3.4.3 Farm household livelihood diversification
  • 3.4.4 Asset ownership
  • 3.4.5 Poverty dynamics
  • 3.5 Econometric analysis
  • 3.6 Conclusions and policy implications
  • Appendix 3A: Construction of the household asset index
  • Appendix 3B: Full model estimates
  • Chapter Four
  • 4 Commercialization of Smallholder Horticultural Farming: Gender Roles and Implications for Household Well-being in Kenya
  • 4.1 Introduction
  • 4.2 Theoretical underpinnings
  • 4.3 Data
  • 4.4 Descriptive analysis
  • 4.4.1 Household and farm characteristics
  • 4.4.2 Gender roles in the commercialization of vegetable farming
  • 4.4.3 Constraints hindering the participation of men and women in the commercialization of vegetable enterprises
  • 4.5 Empirical approaches and results
  • 4.5.1 Determinants of female participation in the commercialization of horticulture
  • 4.5.2 Female participation in commercial horticulture and household well-being
  • 4.6 Conclusions and policy implications
  • Chapter Five
  • 5 Commercialization of Smallholder High-Value Horticultural Farming: Institutional Arrangements, Transaction Costs and a Cost-Benefit Analysis of Kenya’s Vegetable Producers
  • 5.1 Introduction
  • 5.2 Evolution of vegetable marketing arrangements in Kenya
  • 5.3 Literature review on the types, costs and benefits of marketing arrangements for high-value agricultural produce
  • 5.4 Conceptual framework
  • 5.5 Theoretical foundation
  • 5.6 Cost-benefit analysis (CBA)
  • 5.7 Data and methods
  • 5.8 Results and discussion
  • 5.8.1 Marketing arrangements identified between French bean producers and traders
  • 5.8.2 Consideration of different costs and benefits
  • 5.8.3 Socio-economic characteristics of households by marketing arrangements
  • 5.8.4 Plot level financial CBA of marketing arrangements
  • 5.8.5 Financial cost-benefit analysis
  • 5.8.6 The relevance of French beans (export crop) enterprises relative to other farm enterprises
  • 5.8.7 Sensitivity analysis
  • 5.9 Conclusions and policy implications
  • Appendix 5A: Overview of investment costs, revenues, operating costs and gross margins of French beans production for marketing channels in Kenya (per acre, per year )
  • Appendix 5B: Sensitivity analysis (Meru and Nyeri districts)
  • Chapter Six
  • 6. Conclusions
  • 6.1 Synopsis
  • 6.2 Limitations of the study and suggestions for further research
  • References
  • Survey questionnaire
  • Abstract
  • Zusammenfassung

List of Tables

List of Figures


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2014 (May)
smallholder participation Bäuerlicher Kleinbetrieb Armut Vermarktung Gartenbau
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2014. 278 pp., 19 b/w fig., 38 tables

Biographical notes

Beatrice Wambui Muriithi (Author)

Beatrice W. Muriithi received her Msc in Agricultural and Applied Economics from Egerton University (Kenya) and a PhD in Agricultural Economics from the University of Bonn (Germany). She was a research assistant at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Nairobi (Kenya) and currently is conducting research at the International Center of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) in Nairobi.


Title: Commercialization of Smallholder Horticultural Farming in Kenya
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280 pages