Analysis of optimal agroforestry enterprise mix under production risk in Mbooni West District, Kenya
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Most arid and semi arid regions of Kenya have been experiencing deterioration in agricultural productivity translating to low levels of farm revenues and food insecurity. As a mitigation strategy, different agroforestry technologies have been innovated and disseminated to farmers in different agro-ecological zones. Agroforestry has also been documented as an important strategy towards the achievement of several Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Agricultural production is a risky activity in the sense that farmers are faced with changing and sometimes unpredictable environment on which production takes place. Risk is often cited as a factor which influences decisions making. It is therefore crucial to take into account the risk situations facing the farmers so that the policy recommendations will be of great importance in real life. This study therefore analyzed the optimal agroforestry enterprise mix under production risk in Mbooni West district, in order to provide relevant information to policy makers and other stakeholders on the specific agroforestry mixes that have the highest potential of improving farm productivity hence increasing farm revenues. The study used primary data collected from the farmers in Mbooni West district using a semi structured questionnaire. Multi-stage sampling was used. In the first stage, random sampling was used where the divisions, locations, sub-locations and villages selected. In the second stage, systematic sampling was used to sample the respondents at the village level, to whom the questionnaires were administered. The study employed the Minimization of the Total Absolute Deviations (MOTAD) model which is a modification of the simple deterministic Linear Programming (LP) approach through the incorporation of the MOTAD constraint which is a measure of production risk1. The results of the study show that farmers in Mbooni West district are sensitive to production risk which influences their choice of farm enterprises and resource allocation. It was also confirmed that the farmers production decision were not optimal but rational in the sense that they are risk minimizing. The study recommended the establishment of marketing cooperatives and farmers unions that will increase their bargaining power in buying of inputs and selling of their products. Farmers should also be encouraged to add value to their products to fetch higher prices among others in order to cushion the small scale farmers against various forms of production risk.