Farmer groups’ characteristics influence on soybean seeds distribution in Embu, Tharaka-Nithi And Meru Counties, Kenya
Njagi, Esther Wanjue
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Soybean production in Kenya is low making the country a net importer of this crop. Various institutions have researched on soybean production potential in Eastern Kenya but the uptake by farmers is low. The situation is largely attributed to farmers‟ inaccessibility to the soybean seeds among other factors. The seed exchange approach affects the movement of new varieties in farming systems. In Eastern Kenya farmer groups are being used in soybean seeds distribution though the factors influencing distribution largely remains unknown.Understanding systems of distribution among small-scale farmers is particularly crucial for soybeans whose seeds have low returns to centralized seed companies.The objective of the study was therefore to evaluate the farmer groups‟ characteristics influencing soybeans seeds distribution. The study was carried out in Embu, Tharaka Nithi and Meru Counties of Eastern Kenya. Interview schedules were administered to 60 farmer groups and 270 individual farmers. The farmer groups were purposively sampled while random sampling was used to select individual farmers within groups. Logistic regression was used to predict the demographic and farm characteristics influencing soybeans seeds distribution while Tobit regression model was used to determine farmer groups‟ characteristics influence on soybeans seeds distribution. Results showed that majority of the groups were registered and had been in existence for more than seven years. The groups had an average of 17 to 29 members. Groups‟ gender comprised of female only groups (23%) and mixed gendered groups (77%). Most of the group members were in the age category of 51-55 years. The main group activities were self-help (68%) and merry go round (88%). The mean number of group activities carried out by groups ranged from three to four. On seeds distribution process, 48% of the groups distributed the seeds to all the group members‟. The criteria used in distribution of seeds to group members included, position in the group, participation in group, presence during seeds distribution meeting, land size, and group member‟s interested in soybean farming. The quantities distributed to group members varied for some groups (55%) while other groups distributed equal quantities of seed to group members (45%). Criteria used to distribute varying seeds amounts were land size and position in group. Individual farmer characteristics influencing soybean distribution were gender (β=1.010, p=0.033), farm size (β=-1.124, p=0.057), education category (β=-1.015, p=0.046), household headship (β=0.890, p=0.041) and number of groups the respondent was a member (β=0.316, p=0.004). Farmer groups‟ characteristics influencing soybean seeds distribution were group size (β=-0.010, p=0.044), group gender (β=0.226, p=0.087), average age of group members (β=-0.019, p=0.067), group meeting intervals (β=-0.143, p=0.042) and number of agricultural related trainings (β=0.074, p=0.0063). The study concludes that farmer groups have various characteristics which influenced soybeans seeds distribution. This implies that in use of groups for soybean seeds distribution and other legumes in the future, the identified groups and individual farmer characteristics should be put into consideration. These will provide a guide to the project, extension agents and others targeting groups and farmers in distribution of seeds and other technologies.