Understanding poverty among small scale tea farmers; a case study of Kiambu county, Lari District, Nyanduma location
Karuga, Mary N
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The tea Sector in Kenya has been one of the most vibrant agricultural sectors in the country earning the country a lot of foreign exchange. This is as evidenced by this year's returns where it has overtaken tourism and horticulture to be the leading foreign exchange earner. However, recent changes in the in climate, high cost of labor, high cost of inputs and rising cost of living have had negative impact on the tea industry in Kenya. Farmers are reportedly looking for alternative sources of income like dairy farming and horticulture to replace their tea farming activities or to supplement the income from tea. The research conducted on small scale tea farmers addresses the challenges that they face some which can be solved if the various stake holders would take it upon themselves to do so and others that are beyond the control of man such as climate change. The paper addresses the plight of tea farmers in Lari District who were the respondents including stakeholders such as the KTDA and Government officials who are the main in the industry. Chapter one of this research paper introduces the geographical area under study. The broad objective was to find out the root cause of the problem of declining income levels among small scale tea farmers. Chapter two presents review of the available literature conducted on small scale tea farming in the country and a comparative study of tea industry in Sri Lanka .The chapter also discusses the theoretical approaches to this study which include Social capital theory, exchange theory and rational choice theory. Chapter three of the study highlights the methodology guiding this study, sampling and data collection. The study used both qualitative and quantitive approaches to collect data. The study used random sampling procedure where all the farmers were given an equal opportunity to be represented in the research. The study used semi structured questionnaire and key informants to interview a total 100 respondents and 10 key informants. The quantitive data was analyzed using SPSS while qualitative data was analyzed by noting down themes and analyzing them. From the findings the small scale tea farmer faces a lot of challenges that if not addressed, the farmer will be left with no alternative but to focus his energies on other income generating activities at the expense of tea farming. This means loss of foreign exchange for the country, employment for all the people in the supply chain and more poverty for the already impoverished farmer. As noted in the research there is an urgent need to address these challenges for the benefit of the many people who rely on tea farming for their daily upkeep.