Impact of Small Scale Horticultural Farming on Rural Poverty in Kenya
Various studies on horticultural farming have acknowledged that the horticulture subsector provides a great opportunity to escape from poverty through agricultural commercialization. It is expected that horticultural farming will alleviate poverty especially among rural small scale farmers through increased income and generation of employment. This is because small scale farmers dominate the domestic market and a small portion of the export market of horticultural produce. However, with increasing demand for horticultural produce and such great potential in horticultural farming to alleviate poverty, the majority of small scale farmers are still in poverty. Using the 2005/6 Kenya Integrated Household Budget Survey (KIHBS) data, this paper analyzes the impact of the horticultural sector on rural poverty in Kenya and investigates the determinants of poverty amongst the small scale horticultural farmers. To this end, the study adopts the logit model to estimate both the impact of horticultural farming on rural poverty and the determinants of poverty among small scale horticultural farmers. The findings indicate that a farmer who engages in horticultural farming is less likely to be poor than a non-horticultural farmer. This is because of the high production value per unit land area, high labor intensity and short production cycles of horticultural crop production as compared to other crops such as staple crops. The study also found that a small scale horticultural farmer is less likely to be poor if he or she is a member of a cooperative society, has a high level of education, has greater access to credit, is of a young age, located in a fertile area among other variables specified in the paper. Policy recommendations advocate for the integration of various policies that focus on provision of different forms of capital, anti-discriminatory laws, community development and policies to offset market failures.
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