Determinants for the growth of ranches in Athi River district, Machakos county, Kenya
The challenge of food security, unemployment in the society has been brought about by inadequate growth in the ranches. This sub sector in the agriculture sector contributes greatest percentage of GDP. This effect has brought up high poverty levels, food insecurity and poor living standards. Patterns of most of the land in Athi River have changed from principally ranching to building of residential estates, setting up industries and agro-ranching production. This trend has in most cases adversely affected livestock production and the production capacity of the land. To arrest the situation, the study therefore sought to investigate the determinants for the growth of ranches in Athi River District, Machakos County, in Kenya. The study sought to establish whether or not growth of ranches is affected by funding, infrastructure, feed resources, livestock marketing and research. Funds are required to start up, operate and expand enterprises; inadequate financing will always manifest itself in problems both at implementation and thereafter poor operation. Infrastructure is an essential component in the growth and development of ranches, absence of basic infrastructure impedes the growth of Agriculture sector enterprises. The availability of feeds can be increased or feed utilized by improvement of water distribution point and reduced overgrazing, increasing primary production by intensifying land use. Livestock marketing is considered as an essential part of livestock production in ranches because increased production is unlikely to be sustained in these areas, unless the product is traded, thus livestock marketing is the ultimate step in the livestock marketing process. Research increases the set of available technologies; hence agriculture research expenditures are used as a proxy for agriculture technology change. The conceptual frameworks will show the relationship between growth and factors influencing growth in ranches and when they interlay to effect growth. Descriptive survey design was adopted for this study as information deduced from the collected data was able to describe the existing phenomenon. A census was carried out since the target population is small and manageable. The target population of the study was 100 respondents comprising of 88 ranch managers, 10 administrators and 2 livestock officers. The data was collected using two questionnaires one for administrators’ and the other one for ranch managers. An interview schedule was conducted to get information from two livestock officers. The data collected was analyzed using quantitative and qualitative approaches. Tabulation of the data was made using the frequency distribution tables and analysis done using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS).The analyzed data presented indicated that growth of ranches was greatly affected by inadequate funding, unconditioned infrastructure services, lack of enough feed resources, poor livestock marketing systems. The study concluded that funding, infrastructure; feed resources, livestock marketing, research and dependent variable growth in ranches were positively correlated. The study finally recommends quick review of the factors pointed out and further recommends areas for further studies on influence of gender, technology, government policy, education and training on growth of ranches.