Factors Influencing Withdrawal Of Farmers From Sugarcane Farming; A Case Of Mumias District, Kakamega County, Kenya
Sugarcane farming is an essential activity in the whole world because of the major product it provides, that is, sugar. Sugar, which is got from processing sugarcane plants, is planted by mainly farmers who deliver it to the processing factory after maturity. However, there are factors that influence sugarcane farming in Kenya, and in particular Mumias district in Kakamega County. Most of the sugarcane farmers in the western part of Kenya are pulling out of sugarcane farming due to various reasons and this study aimed to find out what the reasons are and how best to reduce the number of farmers who withdraw from this activity. In order to reduce the number of farmers who withdraw from sugarcane farming in the area, factors like input costs, availability of incentives, food security and time of payment of farmers, were of a major concern. They were able to assist the researcher to get a clear picture of what the sugarcane farmers go through and come up with necessary suggestions to curb the situation. The target population in this study was 11,895 people. 11,885 sugarcane farmers and 10 Agricultural extension officers (AEOs) in Mumias district, who had prior experience about sugarcane farming constituted the target population. For this particular population, the researcher used questionnaires to get information from them. The questionnaires for the AEOs were primarily employed to give a deeper understanding of what the farmers experience that make most of them pull out of sugarcane farming. A sample size of 370 was used in the study. The questionnaires were tested first in a pilot study, then moderated before the actual data collection so as to ensure correct information is received. Findings from this research study provided recommendations to the concerned stakeholders in the agricultural sector so that the necessary control measures are taken. The findings were also of great importance to the farmers in Mumias district at large in setting benchmarks with what other farmers are doing, aimed at achieving their objectives and goals in life. Descriptive survey method was used in the study, owing to the fact that this research attempts to collect data from members of a given population so as to determine the current status of that particular population with respect to one or more variables in the study. The element of reliability of the measuring instruments was determined using the test re-test method. Statistical Package of Social Sciences (SPSS) was used to classify and analyse the data that was collected. It was found out that most of the sugarcane farmers in Mumias district have pulled away from growing sugarcane because of increased costs of input, lack of incentives, minimal food security and delayed payment for the sugarcane supplied to the factory. It was concluded that farmers no longer get incentives from the factory, including free tree seedlings and the 15 percent as it was sometime back. The workshops and field days are few and less farmers attend them. Recommendations for further research were first, to what extent has private cane farming affected cane farming on contractual basis with Mumias Sugar Company? Secondly, factors that led to the demise of MOCO (Mumias Sugar Company Outgrowers Association) that championed the farmers’ plights. Third, the influence of the rising cost of energy on sugarcane farming. Lastly, Alternative modern farming methods that would integrate cane farming and food production to ensure food security.