Influence of socio- economic status on the access to agricultural farm inputs by small holder farmers in Yatta sub-county of Machakos county, Kenya
The purpose of this study was to establish the socio economic factors influencing the access to farm inputs by small holder farmers in Yatta Sub-County, Machakos County. The objectives of the study included; establishing how income level, education level, gender and access to credit influenced the access to farm inputs by small holder farmers in Yatta Sub-County of Machakos County, Kenya. The key problem informing this study was the realisation the consumption of modern farm input in the study area was very low despite the Government implementation of the National Input Access Programmes and subsidising fertilizer. A descriptive research design was employed with a mixed method approach of both the quantitative and qualitative data collection methods. The target population was the small holder farmers in Yatta Sub-county and with a sample of 384 farmers. A pilot study was conducted before the actual data collection with a sample of 20 farmers and the feedback from the research assistants was incorporated in the refinement of the data collection instruments. A multi stage sampling technique combining stratified random sampling and purposive sampling method was applied in this study. Data analysis was done by use of SPSS and presentation was done by analysis of the frequency distributions and inferential statistics was done using multiple regression analysis method. The findings of this study established that access to agricultural farm inputs by small holder farmers was at 31.8% and in terms of how the independent variables of the study influenced the access to agricultural farm inputs, it was established that a unit change in income level holding the other factors constant would lead to change in access to farm inputs by 0.807 units, a unit change in education holding the other factors constant would change access to farm inputs by 0.306 units, a unit change in gender holding the other factors constant would change access to farm inputs by - 0.051 units and a unit change in access to credit holding the other factors constant would change access to farm inputs by 0.253 units. The recommendations of this study include; the need for the current input subsidy program on fertilizer to be expanded to cover other farms inputs, there is need to work towards improving the accessibility of the fertilizer and by extension all the other inputs to the local level by making sure that the mini depots which have been set at sub-county level are decentralised to ward and even village level, need for timely supply of the farm inputs to coincide with planting seasons and the packaging of inputs and especially for fertilizer to be done in smaller quantities to enable low income earners afford and use farm inputs and the need to mobilise farmers into groups in order to improve the farmer‟s negotiation power and inculcate the advantage of collective bargaining power. The study recommends further areas of research on other potential influencing factors in the access to agricultural farm inputs including; how climatic and weather conditions influences the access to farm inputs in arid and semi- arid lands.
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