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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 Three


3. Does Commercialization of Smallholder Horticulture Reduce Rural Poverty? Evidence from Household Panel Data in Kenya

3.1 Introduction

Commercialization of smallholder agriculture is viewed as a pathway towards economic growth and development in many developing countries that have agriculture dependent economies (von Braun et al., 1994; Pingali & Rosegrant, 1995; Pingali, 2007). Commercialization and the diversification of horticulture, especially of high-value crops, have been identified in the past two decades as one of the fastest growing agricultural sub-sectors in Sub-Saharan Africa (Gioè, 2006; Afari-Sefa, 2007; Henson & Jaffee, 2008). Until 2008, horticultural exports have been growing at an impressive rate in Kenya (Figure 1.1). As a result of this remarkable growth, policy makers, donors, and researchers perceive the rapid growth of the sub-sector as a viable “pro-poor” rural development strategy, assuming that the growth is reaching rural smallholders, the majority of whom are involved in horticulture. However, there are concerns regarding the perceived impacts of horticulture on rural smallholders.

The first concern is that smallholder farmers are being forced out of the horticultural business. With the increasing integration of developing countries in global market trade, there are emerging forms of non-tariff barriers such as food quality and safety standards for which compliance may be cost prohibitive to small producers (Dolan & Humphrey, 2000; Jaffee, 2003; Henson & Reardon, 2005; Jaffee et al., 2005; Okello, 2005; Muriithi et al., 2010a). As a result, past studies have found that exporters are increasingly shifting away...

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