Factors influencing fertilizer use by small scale farmers; a case of Mathira East District, Central Province, Kenya
Mukunzi, Titus Nzukuna
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In Africa, use of fertilizer averages only eight kilograms per hectare. In short, Africa is trapped in a fertilizer crisis; this is only 10% of the world average (Africa fertilizer summit 2006) less than 30% of the small scale farmers in the medium and high potential areas of Kenya use fertilizers (MOA 2004). The consequence is that soils are depleted of nutrients and farmers obtain low yields. This is the main cause of not only of declining agricultural productivity but also of increasing food insecurity and object poverty. The objective of the study was to determine the factors influencing fertilizer use by small scale fanners of Mathira East District. The study used descriptive survey design. The sampling procedure was multi stage sampling method. The data was collected using interview method. The instrument used was a semi structured questionnaire with open and closed ended questions. The analysis was descriptive in form of frequencies and percentages. The study findings show that the majority of farmers experienced soil infertility despite using fertilizer. Cost of fertilizer was very high but family incomes low. The youth were not engaged in farming but literacy levels are high. Credit use was low and farm sizes small. The study made recommendations to policy makers to introduce mechanisms of lowering fertilizer cost and credit schemes friendly to farmers. The study also recommended introduction of programs on training the youth on farming, intensive farming and value addition of agricultural produce.