Factors influencing food security of farmers practicing peri-urban agriculture crop production in Naivasha Municipality, Kenya
Agriculture is the mainstay of the Kenya’s economy and currently represents 24 per cent of GDP. There are more than 5 million smallholders engaged in different types of agriculture activities in the country. The compounded average growth rate of agriculture was 5.2 percent between 2001 and 2005 but the export growth was at 8 percent. However, formal employment grew by 1 percent. Agricultural sector is made up of four major sub-sectors namely, industrial crops, food crops, horticulture, livestock and fisheries. Development of these sectors is one of the government objectives as indicated in vision 2030. Despite the central role agriculture plays in the Kenya’s economy the sector continues to face four major challenges associated with productivity, land use, marketing and value addition. The six flagship projects which will be implemented in the agricultural sector include enactment of the consolidated agricultural reform bill, fertilizer cost-reduction, disease free zones, land registry, land use master plan and ASAL development project. Urban and peri-urban agriculture is a strategy that can be adopted by low income households to meet their food and nutritional requirements. The purpose of the study was to assess the factors influencing peri-urban agriculture and food security of farmers in Naivasha municipality. The objectives of the study were: to determine how peri-urban agriculture production, how marketing, and organizational capacity affects food security among farmers in Naivasha municipality. The study used a descriptive survey design and was carried out in six wards of Naivasha municipality. The study used structured questionnaires in order to collect data from the farmers and a response rate of 76.5 percent was obtained. In order to ensure reliability of the questionnaires a pilot test was conducted before actual study was conducted and some adjustments were done on the original questionnaires before administering it to the farmers .Data collected was coded and analysis was done using statistical package for social sciences. Results are presented using tables, percentages, means and Anova Tables. Findings from the study reveal that 75% of the farmers had an average of 1.2 acres and 99% of them produced their crops on soil despite availability of modern technology advances while only 1 % were using soilless media mainly pumice, 95% of the farmers grew their crops in open fields and 85% never used any form of mechanization. Over 63% of the farmers depended on rainfall and this contributed to low productivity and high rate of crop failure affecting food security. The study found out that most of the crops grown yielded below optimum levels that can enable farmers realize profit and this could be attributed to the production factors analysed. The findings also indicate that majority of farmers did not have post secondary education, with only 4% with university education. The results also show 91% of the farmers had no management skills, 63% of the farmers did not keep any records, and 74% of the farmers were not visited by the agricultural extension service providers, there was only 2% support of NGOS in the agricultural sector, while only 3% of the farmers had access to internet hindering their access to current information on best practices that optimise productivity, management and marketing. Most of the farmers (83%) did not have any specific buyers for their crop produce and 71% did not have any storage facilities, while 91% were not doing any value addition to their crop produce. Over 85% were not involved in price setting for their crop produce, 36% of the respondents had a problem with food availability during some months of the year, and 62% had challenges with obtaining the variety of food they wanted, this is of great concern given that the population is growing at a high rate while resources are diminishing. The multiple regression carried out indicated that farmer’s organisational capacity had the greatest effect on food security, followed by marketing and lastly production aspects. It’s recommended that farmers should be encouraged to adopt modern methods of farming including use of covered greenhouses, irrigation systems and use of soilless media in order to improve yields and avoid crop losses. Further, there is need to improve on marketing of crop produce by opting for contracted farming where the farmers can negotiate the price of their produce based on cost of production. The Government and the NGOS should participate more in activities promoting peri-urban agriculture from the farm level to marketing and in Extension services which can enhance food security. The findings are important to all the stakeholders in the agriculture sector because they highlight the areas that need to be improved in order to ensure peri-urban agriculture plays a vital role in contributing towards food security.