Agricultural supply response: a look at the determinants of maiza production in Kenya (1963-2006)
Over the last few years, the annual rate of food production has fallen below the annual rate of population growth. This has led to food shortages, sometimes culminating in famine situations. In order to assuage this situation, there is need to explore ways of increasing food production. Maize is one of Kenya's most important staple food crops and is grown by both large and small scale farmers. The importance of maize cannot be overestimated. Maize is so important that in Kenya, shortage of maize is synonymous with famine. Due to the fact that maize is the staple food of most Kenyans, its production has gained a lot of emphasis since failure to produce enough maize would mean that food security is threatened. The study set out to identify and analyze the determinants of maize production in Kenya in the period 1963 - 2006. The study looked at both price and non-price factors influencing maize production including prior period yield, exchange rate, macroeconomic environment, credit to the agricultural sector, political environment, weather and seed quality. An error correction model was used to analyze the long-run and short-run effects of various factors determining maize production. The study found that acreage under production, producer prices, GDP growth rate, yield, seed quality and weather were all significant determinants of maize production. The study also found that Kenyan maize farmers do not respond to changes in civil unrest and that liberalization of the maize industry is likely to have had a positive impact on maize production. The study suggests that producer prices alone are inadequate to influence maize production and recommends a compatible and integrated policy regarding the provision of input subsidies, improved seed quality and enhanced support for the agricultural sector to improve production. An improvement in the institutional framework and policy environment is necessary to support and sustain maize production.