Analysis of factors influencing farmers' participation in collective marketing initiatives in Maara, Meru south and Mbeere South Sub-Counties, Kenya
This study was carried out in Meru South, Maara and Mbeere South sub-counties in the Republic of Kenya. The purpose of this study was to analysis the factors affecting farmers' participation in collective marketing initiatives. Marketing of agricultural commodities in Kenya is unsystematic coupled with high transport costs, low prices, exploitation by middle men and insufficient markets information among other factors that force farmers to sell when prices are lowest. Studies in the past have focused and examined the advantages of collective action, while little is known or documented on the dynamics of smallholder participation in collective action initiatives. The objective of this study were to evaluate the effects of farmer groups' characteristics and activities on participation in collective marketing of food crops; To examine the household and farm factors that influences the participation of farmers in collective marketing of food crops and to assess farmers' perception on the benefits of marketing food crops collectively. Simple random sampling was used to sample individual farmers while purposive sampling was used to sample farmer groups who participated in the study. Primary data were collected using semi - structured interview schedules administered to farmer groups (n=59) and individual farmers (n=273). Data was analyzed using descriptive statistics, Logit regression and Principal Component Analysis in Statistical Package for Social Scientists (SPSS). Results indicate that the age of the group had significant effect on the participation of a group in collective marketing (p<0.05). The average age of groups not participating in collective marketing was 9.07 years while those participating had a mean age of 5.44 years (p<0.05). Group activities significantly affected the participation of groups in collective marketing initiatives (p<0.05). Training in collective action positively influenced the participation of farmer groups in collective marketing (p<0.05). Participation of farmers in collective marketing was influenced by group membership (p<0.05), land tenure (p<0.05), off farm income (p<O.l), past experience in collective action (p<0.05) and training in collective action (p<0.05). Results of the principal components analysis show that farmers perceived that farmer acting collectively accessed training better than those acting individually. Farmers also perceived that poor individuals, especially women are more likely to participate in collective action. Also respondents perceived that collective marketing was a better way of marketing commodities especially due to the ability to negotiate prices and reduce marketing costs. The results of this study have shown that there are profound effects of some of the farmer groups and farmer characteristics on participation in collective marketing. Further, results indicate that farmers perceive collective marketing as a formidable mechanism of marketing agricultural commodities. This study recommends that variables found significantly influencing participation in collective marketing of food crops should be put into considerations when targeting to promote collective marketing among farmers and farmer groups.