The Role of Agro-based industries in rural development, A Case study of Nyansiongo Tea Factory in Borabu Division, Nyamira District.
Machini, Stella N
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Agriculture continues to play a significant role in rural landscapes hence a basis for rural development. Agro-based industries which thrive on this major rural economic activity are an important aspect in rural development too. Tea industry a major agro-based industry in Kenya was selected to examine its role in the development of Borabu division as a case study. Borabu division presents a different picture from the rest of the district because it is a resettlement area. In addition, it presents the least population density. The problem concerns the fact that the division's resource potential is high but their utilization is relatively low. Tea is a high value cash crop and as far as its production is concerned, it is very low compared to the region's potentials coupled with the population growth rate of 2. 16 per cent there would be a considerable strain on the rich agricultural base a factor that could jeopardize future developments. The tea industry in Borabu was studied with the main objective of examining its rule in the development of the division. In order to address this objective, the study examined the <. backward and forward linkages of the tea industry within the division, the expenditure patterns of tea farmers and therefore how they contribute to development examined the problems facing the industry along the linkage columns and points and finally suggested on how the industry could be planned to contribute more to the development of the division and rural areas in general. Data was collected from tea farmers, factory workers, businessmen, administrators and some key respondents. Borabu division is facing increasing population due to natural increase and high immigration rates. The division has not been able to fully attain the government policy targets on tea development with regard to efficient leaf production and transportation. The division experiences insufficient labour, low production of tea, inefficient management, poor market prices on tea, poor infrastructure in some parts. All these present the weaknesses identified within the linkage pattern of the industry. A number of lessons emerged from the study. That there is need to improve the production of tea at the farm level. This is envisaged to be achievable through encouraging the tea farmers to plant more tea, encourage non-tea farmers to grow the crop and improve the tea husbandry practices. Secondly there is need to improve the efficiency and timely delivery of green leaf tea to buying centre’s and to the factory through an improvement of the roads improving the collection of tea leaves from buying centres and by ensuring a reduction in distance covered. Thirdly, it is crucial that labour supply is sufficient and its performance efficient. In order to boost the farmers' attitude to the crop, market prices-on manufactured tea should be improved. This can only be attained by improving the workers' and farmers' efficiency so as to realize more quality tea which can fetch higher market prices. All these cannot be attained unless there is a well organized management system to overlook all the activities. These suggestions are geared towards improving the role of the tea industry in the division in terms of improving the Income levels creating more employment opportunities as well as inducing other multiplier effects of the crop which are able to contribute further to the development of the areas concerned. This is hoped to contribute specifically to rural development through enhancing the competitiveness of rural areas like Borabu in economic development and through provision of opportunities for rural people to enjoy a standard of living comparable to national standards.