Economic analysis of factors affecting tea production in the smallholder sector in Kericho, district
Ruto, J K
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The existing yield disparities between the smallholder and the estate sectors led to the formulation of this study. The study started off with the main objective of investigating the factors causing low yields in the smallholder sector using Kericho District as an example. Two specific objectives guided the study. These were (a) To assess the factors causing low yields and establish guidelines for increasing tea yields in the smallholder sector in Kericho district and (b) To investigate whether producers' prices have influenced the farmers' motivations in realizing tea yields. The data for the study was generated both from primary and secondary sources. A cluster sampling was carried out in the district. Three clusters were randomly picked and a purposive survey of thirty three farmers was done: based on the availability of time series data. A multiple regressional analysis, graphical and tabulations of the results were used in - \ - ------- interpreting the data. The major socio-cultural and structural variables examined in the study included farm size and area under tea, age, education and occupation, labour availability, cultural practices and extension services and infrastructure variables. It was found out that the relative size of the farm and area under tea affects tea yields depending on the labour availability and the financial status of the family. The age range, education and occupation status all interact to affect tea yields since tea as a cash crop is attributed with regular monthly incomes and have higher incomes per unit area compared to competing enterprises in Kericho District. There was lack of statistical significance between tea yields and the weather variable, the time trend variable, and the plucking cost variable except for the tea price variable. There was also lack of statistical significance between the tea yields and the fertilizer costs, manhours employed and the distance to the buying centres. However, it was found out by tabulation that the further away the buying centre from the farm was, the lower the tea output delivered to the buying centre. Procurement practices of the K.T.D.A. and tea quality issues, the annual processing factories capacity and number of leaf lorries were also investigated. The processing factories capacity and number of leaf lorries in the district were inadequate in handling all the tea leaf from the smallholder sector. The study recommended the expansion of the annual processing factories capacity , increasing the number of the buying centres, proper supply of gunny bags in the buying, centres, encourage tea farmers to form a cooperative union to solve the problems of transport and purchasing of inputs and introduction of motorized plucking machines. The roads network in the District should be murrammed or tarmacked to increase the efficiency of leaf transport. The study found out the tea producing zones (factory regions) with low tea quality receives lower tea prices and also realises lower tea yields compared to others. It was recommended that the improvement of K. T.D.A. infrastructure should be enhanced so that better tea quality are realised in these regions with a hope of attaining a more or less uniform tea prices for tea growers.