A comparative economic analysis of the contribution of Livestock to household incomes: a case of Uiri, Karungu and Nyatike Divisions
Agricultural activities significantly contribute to household income in rural parts of Kenya. This study investigates the contribution of livestock to household incomes in Uriri,Karungu and Nyatike divisions of Migori district, South Western Kenya. Using cross-sectional data from 212 households selected by multistage sampling, out of which 137 were livestock keeping while 75 were non-livestock keeping, the study employed asset mapping methodology, gross margin(GM) analysis, income and SWOT analyses. The study findings indicated that: i) there was an association between livestock ownership and mean household incomes (I 5df, P<O.OOO). Further analysis using MannWhitney U test showed that the income in non-livestock households were, on average, lower than incomes in livestock keeping households (U=1703.5, Z= -8.04, p<O.OOO). ii) households engaged in livestock farming earned 44 percent more in terms of per capita income than those without livestock iii) livestock as an economic asset provided multiple benefits to their owners iv) the gross margins obtained from dairy (the livestock subsector that has grown steadily in all agroecological zones in the country) were 1.9 and 1.6 times higher than the gross margins from maize(the staple crop planted in almost all households in the country) in Uriri and Karungu divisions respectively, while it was 13 times higher in Nyatike division v) inadequate knowledge on animal husbandry, lack of financial capital, livestock diseases and drought were the major constraints to livestock enterprises (SWOT analysis) in Migori district. The study recommends that for agricultural policy to increase rural income, the complementarity of livestock and crop production for example through the use of animal manure must be emphasized to increase agricultural production gains in farm households. Farmers should be educated on feed conservation and animal husbandry techniques to increase productivity. Training of community based animal health workers to attend livestock health problems is recommended.