Influence of Miraa farming on levels of poverty: a case of Mutuati Division of Igembe North, Meru County, Kenya
Mwambia, Patrick G
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Rural poverty is one of the challenges facing Kenya government today; and the causes include agriculture which is the most important economic activity in these areas. The type of agriculture rural population engage in especially in the area of study is rain-fed agriculture, it is depended on for subsistence and livelihood (Todaro, 1992). In the area of the study miraa farming is the mainstay of the people, and most relay on it for livelihood. Miraa farming being a key sector in the county especially in the rural areas therefore play a crucial role in poverty reduction. In the area of study residents almost wholly depends on miraa farming, because it is the main source of livelihood. But despite the growing public concern about the increasing consumption of miraa and other associated drugs in Kenya, few systematic studies have been conducted in the area on the social economic effects of miraa. The research project sought to investigate the influence of miraa farming on poverty levels in Mutuati division of Igembe North, Meru County of Kenya. Specifically, the study sought to establish the extent to which miraa farming mono culture influences the levels of poverty, to assess the impact of miraa farmer's lifestyle on the levels of poverty, to establish how gender issues in miraa farming influences the levels of poverty and to assess the extent to which miraa acreage and land size influence the levels of poverty. The results of the study hoped to demystify the existing views about miraa crop farming. Probability sampling technique was used to select responds who gave the required answers to research questions. The study adopted a descriptive survey research design. Data was collected using questionnaires and interviews; as determined by research design. Analysis of the data was done using descriptive statistics with the aid of Statistical Package for Social Sciences. The analyzed data was presented using percentages and frequency distribution Tables. The study findings revealed that Miraa farming and related trade activities were the main economic activities in the study area. It was established those involved in Miraa farming activities were mainly men making it a men's only affair. Good harvests, were only realized during rainy seasons with poor harvest being recorded during dry seasons which affected miraa prices a demonstration that Miraa prices were sensitive to seasonal variations. The season variations lead to fluctuations in prices and consequently worsening the poverty levels. Land size was a major challenge in the study area with majority of the farmers cultivating Miraa.