Determining The Impact Of Biotechnology On Smallholder Farm Incomes
The advancement in biotechnology has been advocated for by many scientists as carrying the ultimate cure to Africa’s poverty and food insecurity. There is, however, another school of thought opposed to this advocacy; one that view biotechnology as a disaster in the making to both the environment and human livelihoods. This thesis examines the economic relevance of biotechnology to small scale farmers amid growing concerns that most Kenyan farmers are too poor to benefit from biotechnology. To find answers to the raised concerns, a total of 80 rice farmers from Nyando in Kisumu County were sampled and interviewed in a bid to determine suitability and economic potential of biotechnology to smallholder farmers. Whereas the 80 farmers represented the smallholder farmers in general, the New Rice for Africa (NERICA) represented biotechnology. The study employed both cost-benefit and linear programming analyses. As part of the cost-benefit analysis, the Farm profit model was used to generate data on the profitability of the various enterprises with each being analyzed separately. In this regard, conventional rice was found to generate the highest gross margin per acre followed by NERICA, maize and sorghum respectively. To take into account the resource constraints facing farmers, the costs and benefits associated with the various crop enterprises were subjected to linear programming (LP) analysis, where all the possible enterprises were evaluated jointly. The LP results showed that with the current yield, prices, input costs and resource availability, conventional rice is the most competitive followed by NERICA, maize and sorghum respectively. Turning to the economic potential of biotechnology, it was established that the NERICA technology has capacity to improve smallholder farmers’ incomes by up to 300%. The sustainability of such potential benefits however requires provision of adequate support in terms of credit and yield enhancing research. Given the needs of the nation, available resources and the income generation capacity of biotechnology, stakeholders should promote and effectively support development of biotechnology. This will avail benefits to farmers and provide a solution to one of the country’s headaches, food security.