Evaluation of economic efficiency of tick control practices among smallholder dairy farmers in Kenya
Abworo, E O
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This study evaluated efficiency of tick control practices, for control of East Coast fever (ECF), in smallholder dairy farms in Kenya to identify practices more efficiently beneficial in such farming systems. The study used both economic data and results of a longitudinal study conducted in four sites in Kenya (Kesses, Kiambaa, Lurambi and Makuyu) for assessment of parameters for tick infection dynamics modelling. Data analysis involved ECF risk estimation at the farm level using a regression model, classification of farms using cluster analysis procedure, simulation of disease risk into economic values and finally, frontier and Stochastic Dominance analyses to evaluate economic efficiency of ECF control. Disease risk analysis results from this study identified intensity of acaricide use and study site interaction with breed as significant in explaining the risk (P<O.05). These results compare with results from other studies conducted in smallholder farming areas of Kenya in that they show farm management practices such as acaricide application as significant in determining risk of the disease at the farm level. Cluster analysis identified three farm types classified as low, moderate and high ECF risk farms, based on clustering qualitative characteristics. Analysis of variance (ANOV A) result from the cluster analysis showed acaricide application provided greatest separation between clusters with F value of 418.2 interpreted as acaricide application being an important criterion for classifying farms. Frontier analysis showed that significant variation in losses due to ECF existed across farms (Gamma significant at 95% level) with efficiency in control of the disease being a significant cause of the variability. The analysis further showed that exotic breeds and free-grazing have a positive and significant effect on the losses, where as, high acaricide application results in negative and significant effect on the same losses. Stochastic analysis of both sites and farm-types showed second-degree stochastic dominance. The results showed that rearing zebu and zebucross calves under free grazing management with minimal (strategic) acaricide input at low disease risk and rearing exotic calves under free-grazing management with intensive acaricide input at high disease risk results in higher benefits. Generally, the results suggest that understanding how frequency of acaricide application change risk of ECF and thus production variability can help to explain to some extent patterns of adoption of control practices seen in this study as well as identify inefficient control practices. This study has shown that not all the smallholder acaricide application practices and farm types are efficient. However, the study shows that disease control inputs applied strategically in some farm types can lead to disease control cost efficiencies. The results further suggest that higher susceptibility of high grade animal to ECF, high value of replacement animals and ability of a farmer to access disease control inputs could explain efficiencies or inefficiencies observed. The study suggests a further investigation of investment risk preferences of smallholder dairy farmers.