Impact Of Access To Agro-Processing Technologies On Growth Of Smallholder Agro-Processing Industry In Bureti District, Kenya
Agriculture remains the lifeblood of many countries as exemplified by its dominance in a large number of economies across the globe. However, primary agriculture alone can no longer provide reliable livelihood. Thus, the pattern of economic growth in these countries has witnessed a gradual shift from agriculture to industry. Agro-processing, which is the stimulant for this transformation from agriculture to industry, is one of the sub-sectors now being focussed-on to provide additional income generating opportunities to support the growing population particularly in the developing economies. Inspite of the emerging importance of agro-processing in industrialization process its growth has been faced with the constraints of access to agro-processing technologies, especially among smallholder agri-businesses. Consequently high proportion of agricultural produce in developing countries is traded in raw form and fails to compete favourably in both local and international markets resulting into exploitation and poor returns. The objectives of the study were to: determine the extent to which manufacturing equipments impact on growth of smallholder agro-processing industry; establish the impact of manufacturing skills training on growth of smallholder agro-processing industry; examine the impact of access to automated functions on growth of smallholder agro-processing industry; and evaluate the extent to which training on managerial skills impacts on growth of smallholder agro-processing industry in Bureti District. The study employed a cross-sectional descriptive research design in which main emphasis was on quantitative data with limited use of qualitative data that helped to fill information gaps. The accessible target population was all the 400 agro-processing/value-addition groups and individuals as well as all the 22 technical experts offering agro-processing training and advisory services in Bureti District. Sample size of 196 comprising of 183 smallholder farmers from agro-processing groups, 3 agroprocessing individuals and 10 technical experts was determined using Krejcie & Morgan table for sample size determination, and distributed proportionately across the geographical sampling clusters using Bowley’s proportional formula. Sampling involved mixed techniques including area sampling, purposive sampling and simple random sampling with proportional allocation. The study employed four data collection instruments namely: structured questionnaire to be applied to technical experts; structured interview schedule for groups and individual agro-processors; observation and document analysis techniques. Data analysis involved central editing and validation, coding and processing using SPSS statistical analysis software. Findings on the impact of manufacturing equipments showed that despite the narrow diversity, high costs and long distances travelled to procure agro-manufacturing equipments, their level of access had gone up and this led to marginal increase in the number of agroprocessing IGAs set up. Findings on impact of agro-manufacturing skills indicated that frequency of advisory services and training sessions was adequate .This led to increase in number of agro-processing IGAs among 54.5% of respondents. In addition, access to manufacturing skills was not uniform across all relevant skill areas due to lack of expertise in some specializations. Overall, manufacturing skills training registered a net positive impact on the number of agro-processing IGAs. The study found that diversity of mechanized agro-processing functions was very limited and evident mainly in thermal preservation, quality control and crushing operations. Most IGAs depended on manually operated equipments. However, increase in level of mechanization was perceived by 68.3% of the respondents and this resulted into a positive impact in terms number of agro-processing businesses set up. Findings on the impact managerial skills have on growth of agro-processing industry established that frequency of trainings led to rapid increase in number of IGAs among 26.9% of the farmers. Diversity of management skills was broad in scope and number with 15 modules trained-on. In effect management skills led to 40.8% of farmers indicating increase in number of agro-processing units established. In sum, access to agro-processing technologies led to positive impact on growth of smallholder agroprocessing industry in Bureti district through increase in the number of agro-processing units/businesses established by the smallholder farmers. Overall, it is concluded that the combination of these four (4) has led to positive growth of smallholder agro-processing industry over the last 7 years. The study recommends that government and other development partners should establish mechanisms that will realistically increase access to friendly investment capital and processing skills to the youth as a strategy of increasing their capacity to start small-scale agro-processing businesses.