Livestock Research for Rural Development 24 (5) 2012 Guide for preparation of papers LRRD Newsletter

Citation of this paper

A survey of rural farming practice in two provinces of Kenya. 1. Demographics, agricultural production and marketing

A R Peters, G Domingue, I D Olorunshola, S J Thevasagayam*, B Musumba** and J M Wekundah**

Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines, Pentlands Science Park, Edinburgh, EH26 0PZ, UK
Andy.peters@galvmed.org
* Current address: Pfizer Animal Health, 75668 Paris Cedex 14, France
** Biotechnology Trust Africa, Nairobi, Kenya

Abstract

A total of 558 farmers were interviewed in the districts of Kakamega and Machakos in Kenya during 2007–08 regarding their family circumstances and agricultural activities.  Approximately 60% were in the age range 20 to 49 while almost 40% were more than 49 years old and 60% of respondents were females. They had spent a variable length of time in farming from <10 to more than 40 years.  The average size of farm holding was between 0.4 and 2.0 hectares and almost all respondents were involved in mixed farming (crops and livestock). Livestock species discussed included poultry, cattle and small ruminants and were kept in a range of combinations. Most poultry keepers had between 1 and 20 chickens. Crops included maize, beans and cowpeas and a range of others including horticultural activities. Most farms had to provide supplementary feed to livestock which included hay, napier grass and maize stalks for ruminants and flour residue, maize and commercial feeds for poultry. Respondents used eggs and poultry meat for domestic consumption and surpluses were sold either from the house or at market, sometimes involving an intermediate trader. Additional income from produce sales was used to purchase domestic items including food and fuel. 

Keywords: Agricultural production, animal disease, Kenya, rural farmers, survey, vaccine


Introduction

Kenya with a population of approximately 38.61 million (Population and Housing Census 2009), has the largest economy of the east and central African countries. Agriculture is the second largest industry after the service sector, accounting for approximately 25% of the GDP of approximately $58 billion (Omiti and Okuthe 2009).  About 80% of the Kenyan population live in rural areas and derive their livelihoods from agriculture. Even in urban areas a high proportion of the population make a living from agricultural related activities. Small-scale farmers dominate Kenya’s agriculture, with this sub-sector accounting for about 75% of total agricultural output. Small-scale farmers produce a range of crops including the major cash crops; coffee, tea, maize and horticultural produce and also a range of livestock including poultry, cattle, sheep, goats, and pigs.  The livestock sector contributes about 38% to agricultural GDP (Irungu and Kimani 2008) of which indigenous poultry (Gallus gallus) are the most abundant (see Nyange 2000).

 

Livestock are important in supporting the livelihoods of poor farmers in Kenya and the same is true throughout the developing world (McDermott et al 1999; FAO 2002; Perry and Sones 2007). Furthermore, animal disease and veterinary public-health problems constitute a major constraint to livestock production and safe utilization of animal products worldwide (FAO 2002; Domenech et al 2006). Large sums of money have been invested by governments, non-governmental organisations (NGO’s) and other donors into research and methods of control of livestock diseases, however, there are still major gaps in our ability to control a large number of these diseases (Perry and Grace 2009). It is generally recognised that there is a lack of availability of and access to veterinary medicines and vaccines in many developing countries, largely because the US and European based animal health industries do not believe that there is adequate potential for return on investment (Anon 2006) and that this is often due to lack of supply chains at the local level (Delgado and Narrod 2002). 

 

The Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines (GALVmed; www.galvmed.org) was established in 2004 as a not-for-profit organisation to develop veterinary medicines for livestock where the market is too small or fragmented for the commercial animal health industry to invest. GALVmed has prioritised livestock diseases in developing countries depending on perceived unmet need, irrespective of species. Thus, target diseases include those of poultry, small ruminants and cattle.

 

In order to make strategic decisions it was important for GALVmed to understand better the identity, attitudes and needs of the potential end users of veterinary medicines i.e. the village farmer.  For example, Newcastle Disease (ND) is the most prevalent and fatal disease of poultry in Kenya (Kingori et al 2010) and thus a major key unmet need initially identified by GALVmed was for a sustainable supply of thermo-tolerant ND vaccine.  Although such vaccines have been in use in a number of countries (Bensink and Spradbrow 1999) there is a continuing need for standardization and sustained production together with sustained delivery to Sector 4 (Village or Backyard) production, as defined by  FAO (2007) and ILRI (2007). Similarly, information is also lacking on production practice and constraints and diseases of other species in this sector. 

 

Therefore, the overall objective of this study was to characterize the status of smallholder livestock production systems in Kenya, in order to generate information to assist in the design and targeting of veterinary medicines for rural livestock keepers. Whilst the second paper (Peters et al 2012) concentrates on disease recognition and management, the first part of the survey focused on the demographics and the contribution of different crops and livestock towards household income. 

Materials and methods 

Two counties in different regions of Kenya were selected for the project. Firstly Kakamega is in western Kenya lying about 30 km north of the Equator. It is the provincial headquarters of Western Province. It had a population of 73,607 (1999 census) and is 52 km north of Kisumu which is the third largest city in Kenya. Secondly, the town of Machakos is 64 km southeast of Nairobi. It is the capital of the county of Machakos in Eastern Province of Kenya. Machakos county is a major rural centre, and also a satellite town due to its proximity to Nairobi.  Its population is rapidly growing and was 192,117 in 2009. Machakos has a number of financial institutions, administrative offices, good road infrastructure and town planning.  These two counties were selected to represent different socio-economic areas of Kenya, Kakamega county representing medium to high potential areas, while Machakos county represents arid and semi-arid areas.  Kakamega is more densely populated than Machakos, while Machakos has larger farms.  The crops produced are similar but Machakos has drought tolerant varieties compared to Kakamega. The two counties therefore represent the major ecological zones of Kenya.

This study was conducted on behalf of GALVmed by Biotechnology Africa (BTA) in collaboration with the Ministry of Livestock Development and Fisheries and the Ministry of Agriculture between December 2007 and April, 2008.  Background preparation included ethical approval for the project, meeting with the stakeholders, discussing the study logistics and general planning. This included training researchers on questionnaire administration at research sites and also involved community heads and local guides. The field work began with communication and advocacy meetings conducted with the assistance of the provincial administration.  It was followed by face to face interviews with a cross section of respondents in the farming community. 

Results 

The two towns were originally chosen to represent two distinct demographic areas.  Kakamega comprises largely rural communities whereas Machakos is more urbanised and consequently differences in demographics, attitudes and practices were anticipated.  However, such differences did not emerge clearly from the survey and therefore no attempt has been made to analyse statistically for significant differences between the two selected districts. 

The demographic background of the respondents for the two districts are summarised in Table 1.  Of the total 558 respondents 56% were in Kakamega and 44% in Machakos.  The vast majority of the respondents were the farm owner or the spouse of the farm owner.  There were more female than male respondents and this difference was most marked in Machakos. There was a broad age range of respondents but 58 and 65% were between the ages of 20 and 49 years in Kakamega and Machakos, respectively and 41 and 35% were older than 49.  Around 60% of respondents had been educated at least to primary level and around 95% were married. Between 55 and 58% of the families were between 6 and 10 members in size. 

Table 1. Demographic characteristics of the respondents by district

Characteristics

Kakamega

Machakos

Total numbers of respondents

313 (56%)

245 (44%)

 

Percentage of respondents

Sex of respondents

 

 

Male

45.0

30.0

Female

55.0

70.0

Age of respondents

 

 

<20

1.0

0

20–29

9.5

11.1

30–39

28.0

30.9

40–49

20.4

23.0

 >49

41.0

34.9

Educated to primary level

58.0

63.0

Married respondents

97.0

93.0

Number of members in respondent’s family

 

 

1–5

31.1

39.4

6–10

58.5

54.8

>10

10.4

5.8

Number of males per family unit

 

 

1–3

62.5

63.8

4–6

31.1

31.9

>9

6.4

3.8

Number of females per family unit

 

 

1–3

64.3

64.1

4–6

32.3

32.0

>9

3.4

3.9

An analysis of the farming employment of the respondents and their families is shown in Table 2.  The vast majority of the respondents were the farm owner (68–77%) or the spouse (22–24%) of the farm owner and around 95% were in full time farming.  The length of time that the respondents had been in farming varied from 1-10 years (around 30%) to more than 40 years (17-19%).  In 71–77% of households between 1 and 3 family members worked full time, but most of the family members (69 and 87%) were not permanently employed on the farm. 

Table 2. Analysis of farming employment pattern of respondents’ families

Characteristics

Percentage of respondents

 

Kakamega

Machakos

Farm owners

77.0

68.0

Spouse

22.0

24.0

In full time farming

95.0

94.0

Length of time in farming (years)

 

 

1–10

32.1

26.1

11–20

25.6

29.8

21–40

23.1

27.3

>40

19.2

16.8

Number of family working full time

 

 

0

17.9

10.7

1–3

70.7

76.9

4–6

10.7

10.7

7–9

0.7

1.7

Number of family permanently employed

 

 

0

86.7

69.0

1–3

13.3

29.3

4–6

0

1.7

The main agricultural activities of the respondent farmers are summarised in Table 3.  The most common size of holding was between 0.4 and 2.0 hectares (50 and 58%). Almost all respondents (>97%) were engaged in mixed farming i.e. production of crops and livestock. 

Of those who kept cattle, around 76% kept between 1 and 5 head.  Similarly, of those who kept small ruminants approximately 75% kept between 1 and 10 animals.  Most farmers (around 90–95%) who kept chickens had between 1 and 20 birds.  In terms of combinations of livestock species, 60.1% of farms in Kakamega kept cattle, small ruminants and poultry compared to 73.6% in Machakos. 

In terms of crops, almost all respondents grew a combination of maize, beans and cowpeas. However, a wide variety of additional crops were also grown; the most common combinations are shown in Table 3. 

Table 3. Agricultural activities of the two districts

Characteristics

Percentage of respondents

 

Kakamega

Machakos

Size of holding

 

 

<0.4ha

11.4

15.3

0.4–2ha

57.5

50.0

2–4ha

15.7

18.6

>4ha

15.4

15.7

Involved in mixed farming

99.0

97.0

Of those keeping animals:

 

 

Number of cattle

 

 

1–5

75.7

76.1

6–10

22.7

20.9

>10

1.6

3.0

Small ruminants 

 

 

1–5

47.5

39.0

6–10

27.9

34.5

11–15

17.5

16.1

>15

7.1

10.4

Poultry

 

 

1–5

18.7

19.1

6–10

24.9

24.4

11–15

19.7

16.0

16–20

20.3

18.7

>20

16.4

21.8

Combinations of Livestock species kept by individual households

 

 

Poultry only

7.3

5.4

Small ruminants only

2.0

0.8

Small ruminants and poultry

11.6

11.7

Cattle, small ruminants and poultry

60.1

73.6

Combinations of  crops grown by individual households

 

 

(In addition to Beans, Cowpea and Maize)

 

 

Pigeon peas, mangoes, green grams

40.3

60.7

Vegetables, pigeon peas

4.2

10.7

Bananas, vegetables, horticulture (flowers and fresh fruit)

41.0

13.9

The major reported difficulty in livestock management was in providing sufficient feed (Table 4) and consequently a wide variety of household and crop residues were utilised as feed supplements. 

Table 4. Supplementary feed usage by livestock farmers

Characteristics

Percentage of respondents

 

Kakamega

Machakos

Respondents reporting problems with feeding livestock

 

 

Ruminants

88.4

77.8

Poultry

89.0

61.6

Supplementary feeds used

 

 

Ruminants: 

 

 

Hay

8.8

21.5

Napier grass

34.4

13.7

Maize stalks

45.1

34.7

Poultry

 

 

Flour remnants

54.3

20.5

Maize germ

34.6

44.9

Commercial feeds

0

6.3

Table 5 shows marketing data on farm products in the two districts.  Respondents used their eggs for home consumption and for sale (data not quantified).  About 50% of respondents preferred to sell their eggs at market rather than from home (47–56%), and about 46% of respondents preferred to sell their poultry at market rather than from home.  Around 32–36% kept eggs for home consumption and sold them.  Respondents (85%) believed that low prices/exploitation by traders were the major problems encountered by farmers in marketing their farm products.  Approximately 90% of respondents used income from sale of surplus produce for domestic purchases including oil and food items. 

Cattle are by far the most lucrative in terms of sales with a potential annual income value of 11,000 to 20,000 Ksh. However, this applied to relatively few farmers (approximately 28%) compared to those earning income from small ruminants, poultry and crop production.  In contrast, both poultry keeping and crop production are estimated to provide 1000–10,000 Ksh in annual income and for a larger proportion (approximately 57–83%) of respondents. Approximately 60% of respondents claimed that the individual value of their medium and large chickens was 100–300 Ksh. 

Table 5. Some sale and income characteristics for farm produce

Characteristics

Percentage of respondents

 

Kakamega

Machakos

Respondents’ utilisation of eggs

 

 

Home consumption

36.4

31.8

Sale from home

6.2

4.1

Sale at market

56.1

46.7

Sale from home and at market

1.3

10.7

Respondents’ preferred places for sales of poultry

 

 

Home

27.9

13.6

Market

45.9

46.5

Sale from home and at market

26.2

39.9

Problems reported in selling farm products

 

 

Low prices/exploitation by traders

88.7

82.5

Annual income in Ksh by species

 

 

Cattle (11,000–20,000)

28.1

27.8

Small ruminants (1000–10,000)

66.5

67.8

Poultry (1000–10,000)

87.5

65.6

Crops (1000–10,000)

80.7

49.3

Average cost of chickens sold in terms of size (Ksh)

 

 

Small (50–100) 

43.4

62.1

Medium (101–200)

58.2

72.5

Large (201–300)

64.2

58.8

Use of income from sale of chickens

 

 

Domestic purposes e.g. oil, food, sugar, tea

94.6

94.9

Discussion 

The respondents interviewed in this survey were predominantly small-farm owners and their spouses in two selected areas of Kenya.  Most respondents were full-time farmers, whereas others combined this with other jobs. The gender distribution of respondents was about 60% female and 40% male.  The prominent role of women in rural family poultry (RFP) production has been highlighted previously (Guye 2000; Njue et al 2002).  However, Okitoi et al (2007) indicated that the woman’s role is limited to non-cash related decisions although this view is not supported by Omiti and Okuthe (2009) who suggested that women are the main decision makers in RFP production and that they control the income. Nevertheless, Guye (2000) has suggested that RFP development programs should specifically aim to facilitate women’s participation and the present survey data would support the necessary inclusion of women farmers in extension and training activities related to the use of veterinary medicines. 

The majority of respondents were in the age group of 30–49 years and approximately 60% of the total respondents were educated to at least primary level.  Similarly, Kimani et al (2006) found that 63% of chicken-keeping household heads were educated to primary or secondary level.  This is highly relevant to the use of veterinary medicines in that it implies that farmers are likely to understand their role and importance in good animal husbandry and would also be able to benefit from training in these subjects. 

Ndirangu et al (2009) used probabilistic models to determine the factors involved in two decision-making processes in relation to poultry keeping i.e., firstly engagement in poultry production as a livelihood strategy and, secondly the household’s decision as to the size of flock to manage. Firstly, households more likely to keep poultry have older and less educated household heads; they are also larger and have a higher adult female-to-male ratio. The respondents’ livelihoods are diversified and poultry keeping is just one of several.  On the other hand, households that manage much larger flocks tend to have older but more educated household heads and are more likely to be female.  In general, households keeping above average flock size tend to be wealthier. 

In the present study, most farmers in both districts were involved in mixed farming (livestock and crops). Of the farmers that kept livestock, few kept more than 10 animals (cattle plus small ruminants) Most farmers that kept cattle had between 1 and 5 animals and the majority of livestock farmers also kept poultry (≤20 birds).  Various combinations of crops were grown, the residues of which were used as supplementary feed for their livestock. 

As indicated above, backyard poultry production is an important component in traditional rural farming and dominates Kenyan poultry production; the birds surviving largely by scavenging (Nyaga 2007; Kingori et al 2010). In a study of smallholder families in Kenya, farmers ranked poultry keeping as the most important household occupation having a significant impact on their livelihoods (Kimani et al 2006). 

Approximately one third of respondents utilised eggs as part of their household diet with the remainder being sold either from home or at markets.  Similarly, chickens were also sold from both home and at markets.  In Botswana, chickens are regarded as an important hedge against emergency cash needs e.g. medical and school fees (Moreki et al 2010).  The majority of respondents described problems in selling farm produce; these were largely due to low prices and exploitation by traders.  Njue et al (2002) had found that marketing of poultry products was a major problem to most farmers because they either sold their birds to neighbours who offered low prices or to the nearest market where they did not have control over prices.  Marketing of produce is also problematical due to the small volume of output per household at irregular times, lack of market information and high market margins (Njue et al 2002).  The sale value of cattle was obviously highest followed by small ruminants and poultry, respectively.  However, larger numbers of poultry are clearly available for sale.  In fact the main farm income comes from poultry and egg sales, as also reported by Kimani et al (2006) amounting to more than 73% of total farm income in that report. 

In summary, the present study has provided demographic and other information on backyard agricultural practice in two representative communities in Kenya, which will help to inform future strategy to improve the delivery of veterinary medicines to poor livestock keepers. 

Acknowledgements

We are grateful to Dr. Rubina Sharrif for assistance with this project.  The generous funding of the UK Department for International Development and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is gratefully acknowledged. 

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Peters A R, Domingue G, Thevasagayam S J, Musumba B and Wekundah J M 2012 A survey of rural farming practice in two provinces in Kenya. 2. Livestock disease recognition, prevention and treatment. Livestock Research for Rural Development. Volume 24, Article 88, www.lrrd.org/lrrd24/5/pete24088.htm


Received 21 December 2011; Accepted 13 April 2012; Published 7 May 2012

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