An analysis of factors affecting production and marketing of sorghum in Mwingi district, Kenya
Kiio, J Muendi
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The study was conducted to identify factors constraining sorghum production and the imperfections in the marketing system for the grain; as well as, to investigate factors constraining the commercial use of the grain in Kenya. Both secondary and primary data were utilized. Data were collected from a sample of 60 sorghum producers, 25 traders and 6 processors, respectively. The study used the Cobb-Douglas production function to estimate the influence of various factors of production on sorghum yields as well as to examine the efficiency of resource use by smallholder sorghum farmers in Mwingi district. The structure of the sorghum market within the district was examined to characterize the level of competition. The four aspects of the market structure analyzed were: market concentration, product differentiation, barriers to entry and market transparency. The study also gives a description of the factors constraining commercial use of the grain in Kenya. The results of the Cobb-Douglas production function showed that significant factors influencing sorghum yields were seed, labour, agro-ecological zone and availability of extension services. From the efficiency test, the allocative efficiency indices for seed and labour were 1.4 and 0.6, respectively. The implication of these indices is that farmers in Mwingi District are under utilizing seed while over using labour in sorghum production. Farmers would therefore achieve higher profits if capital and labour were used more efficiently. In analyzing the market structure, Lorenz curves and Gini coefficients were used to determine market share of the traders in both Mwingi and Nguni market centres. The Lorenz concentration curves showed that, in Mwingi, 25 percent of the traders controlled 82 percent of volume transacted, whereas 75 percent of the traders controlled only 18 percent of the volume of sorghum transacted. In Nguni market, 15 percent of traders controlled 45 percent of the total volume transacted whereas 85 percent of the traders controlled 55 percent of the total volume of sorghum on a scale of zero to one, where zero depicts absolute equality and one displays complete inequality of market shares. The results of the study also showed that major impediments to entry in the sorghum trade included lack of market transparency in obtaining market information. It was also observed that, none of the merchants traded sorghum grain entirely and smaller quantities of sorghum were transacted with respect to other grains which is evident of supply shortage. Thus supply shortage for the grain is seen as a major barrier to the sorghum trade. The policy implication arising from this study are that, (i) more investment should be targeted to training of small scale sorghum farmers on recommended agronomic practices; (ii) development of appropriate processing technologies at farm level; (iii) appropriate measures should be taken to ensure that information on market outlets (including quality, quantities and market prices) is available for the producers as well as traders to avoid exploitation. Further, institutional arrangements that link producers and processors; such as farmers' cooperatives / associations or contracting suppliers, should be put in place if the competitiveness of this grain is to be enhanced. The availability of consistent supply of the grain may be a major factor in determining whether it can become an important commercial crop in the country. If there is a developing market for the sorghum, then there will be an incentive for farmers to produce sorghum as the ecologically appropriate crop in the drought prone areas. It is therefore necessary that technological developments are used to increase productivity and sustainability of sorghum production and thereby improve livelihoods of the poorest people in the Arid and Semi Arid Lands of Kenya.