Agricultural decision-making and farmers choice of strategies in Trans-Nzoia district, Kenya
Naulikha, Kunusia Gregory M
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This study examines agricultural decision -making and farmers' choice of strategies in Trans-Nzoia District, Rift Valley province, Kenya. The aim is to elucidate the influence of the farmers' perception and knowledge of the physical and socio-economic environments in their choice of crops, livestock enterprise, farming techniques and practices It is hypothesized that the success of agricultural development policy measures or decisions and the introduction of farming innovation, cannot be fully evaluated without an adequate insight into the perception and knowledge of the farmers who are more directly involved in creating agricultural land-use patterns. The behavioural approach is adopted for the study. This ensures the assessment of the farmers' decision-making behaviour from its own perspective in order to understand it without fitting it to already pre-conceived notions. The repertory Grid is the major technique used in data collection. It is ideal in studying the perceive world of the individual with minimum interference from the researcher. The data is subjected to simple statistical interpretation and analyzed both quantitatively and qualitatively. The study indicates that; first there are non-significant relationships between the selected socio-economic variables and the choice of farming strategies. Second, such non-economic factors as security of subsistence requirements, knowledge and experience and predispositions have a very significant influence on the choice of farming strategies. Third, there is a choice of farming techniques and practices between the small-and large-scale farmers. Fourth, both small-and large-scale farmers are influenced by economic, non-economic and to a lesser extent physical factors in the choice of the priority farming strategies. The differences in agricultural goals and resources available to them. In this study, it is argued that, within an agricultural environment each farmer sets goals, which influence his choice decisions on enterprises production techniques and practices. These goals are dynamic; perception and knowledge of the agricultural environment and the factors influencing decision-making also change. These account for the past, present and future spatial variations in agriculture land-use patterns in the study area. The study generally concludes that only by identifying, understanding and incorporating the farmers perception and indigenous technical knowledge (ITK) in policy-making implementation, innovation diffusions, development and evaluation process, can realistic agricultural measures or policy decisions advocated. Consequently its suggested in the study that the approach and methodology utilised could valuable to a holistic analysis and understanding of other agricultural environments without the risk of imposing preconceived notions on them. The study also shows that the government agricultural policies have always tended to favour the large-scale farmers who give priority to economic goals in their farming pursuits. The small-scale farmers who give priority to non-economic goals have been little influence by these policies in their efforts to improve agriculture. It is therefore recommended that the government should look into the pricing and marketing systems, the retention service, input supply institutions, research institutions, tractorization of farm operations and land-tenure systems in order to enhance agricultural development in the study area.