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Commercialization of Smallholder Horticultural Farming in Kenya

Poverty, Gender, and Institutional Arrangements


Beatrice Wambui Muriithi

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.
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Chapter One


1. General Introduction

1.1 Background and research problem

Agriculture and agribusiness remain fundamental instruments for sustainable growth and poverty reduction in many developing economies. In agriculture-based economies such as in Sub-Saharan Africa, agriculture generates 29% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on average and employs 65% of the labour force (World Bank, 2007). Together, agriculture and agribusiness account for nearly half of the GDP in Africa (World Bank, 2013). Today, about 1.4 billion people live on less than USD $1.25 a day (UN, 2012). The majority of these poor are found in countries with agriculture-based economies. Over 75% of them depend on agriculture for their livelihood and live in rural areas. Promoting agriculture therefore remains imperative to meeting the MDG goal of halving poverty and hunger. Raising agricultural productivity is particularly crucial if agriculture is used as a basis for economic growth (World Bank, 2013). Growth in agricultural productivity can be achieved by improving the competitiveness of agricultural products in interna­tional, regional and domestic markets; especially for high-value horticultural crops. In the recent past, the intensification and commercialization of smallholder agriculture in Africa has been identified by many government and development agencies as a key means for delivering accelerated growth in agriculture, which is critical to meeting MDGs in Africa (Wellard, 2011). The comparative advantage of the commercialization of smallholder farmers over subsistence production therefore presents a strong justification for its promotion while seeking equitable distribution of benefits and costs accrued from this...

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