Farming systems and household food security in Kasikeu Division of Eastern Province, Kenya
This study examined the relationship between farming systems and household food security in Kasikeu Division of Eastern Province. The study sought answers to the following questions: One, how does the farming system employed by households in Kasikeu division affect household food security? Two, what are the constraints faced by these households in the production of their food? Three, how do patterns of land ownership and use in the division affect household food security? The study's main objective was to explore the relationship between farming systems and household food security in Kasikeu Division. Specifically, the study had the following three objectives. One, to investigate how the farming system employed by the households in Kasikeu division affects household food security; two, to examine the extent to which the constraints faced by these households impinge on household food security; and, three, to describe how gender disparities regarding land ownership affect household food security in the division. The study was guided by the theory of functionalism, which states that culture functions to meet the needs of individuals such as nutrition. The study was done between January and April 2001, and the target population consisted of rural households that practise farming in Kasikeu division. A sample of 100 farming households was used in the study, with household heads acting as respondents. The study elements were selected using cluster and systematic sampling strategies. Data were collected using structured interviews, focus group discussions, key informant interviews, observation and secondary sources. Quantitative data were analyzed using the SPSS computer programme whilst qualitative data were analyzed according to emerging themes using content analysis. The main [IDdings of the study are, one, households in the study area largely depend on farming for their livelihood. However, they are food-insure due to several constraints they face such as farming systems which depend on inappropriate technology and therefore fanners cannot produce food in sufficient quantities. The situation is aggravated by unpredictable weather conditions and lack of market outlets with stable prices. Two, farmers are forced by circumstances to dispose of any surplus produce. They have to sell surplus food to buy other essential commodities. Three, the land tenure system is a disincentive to agricultural production, since it places land ownership in the hands of men who play an insignificant role in food production. On the basis of these fmdings, it is concluded that the farming system employed by these households does not provide them with sufficient food to guarantee a healthy nutritional status. Other factors such as unpredictable weather conditions, lack of appropriate market outlets, exclusive dependence on rain-fed agriculture, the traditional land tenure system, and lack of cash crops also contribute to the production of insufficient food stuffs. The study, therefore, recommends that the government and its development partners, should come up with strategies to empower women so that they can produce sufficient quantities offood for their families.