Analysis of socio-economic factors affecting the Yields of smallholder coffee farmers In Kirinyaga County, Kenya.
Maina, James Minai
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Coffee is one of the key agricultural export commodities in the Kenyan economy. Prior to 1998, coffee was Kenya's top foreign exchange earner and currently ranks fourth after tea, tourism and horticultural sub-sectors. Despite coffee prices displaying a stable trend increase since 2002, yields in Kirinyaga County have remained low. This has negatively impacted on the farmers earnings from the coffee enterprise thus affecting their economic wellbeing due to the loss of income. This study aimed at determining the socio-economic factors influencing yields as well as assessing the influence of coffee prices on re-investment and yields within the small holder sector of Kirinyaga County. A total of 251 farmers were selected from the study area using the stratified random technique and a semi- structured questionnaire used to collect the data. The selection of farmers was done by first dividing the entire population into several sub-populations referred to as stratums. The three agroecological zones that are suitable for coffee growing in Kirinyaga County represented the stratums. Due to logistical limitations, three co-operative societies cutting across the three zones were randomly selected and fourteen wet mills representing the various AEZs further selected to represent each stratum. Finally, farm households were randomly selected from each of the selected factories using the random number tables. The data was analyzed using descriptive statistics, regression (log - linear model) and correlation analysis using Stata (version11). The results indicated that the mean age of the respondents was 52.95 years. This suggests that the small holder coffee farming community is skewed towards the aging which could negatively affect productivity in the farms. Out of the 76.52% of the fanners who needed credit, only 36.8% had access to adequate credit. This lack of adequate credit limits productivity. The study revealed that only 35.4% of farmers were aware of the Coffee Development Fund despite the existence of institution since 2006. The multiple regression analysis showed an R2 of 0.5217 for all variables investigated which means that 52.17% of the variation in yields can be explained by these variables. The explanatory variables which were statistically significant were access to adequate credit, having some source of cash from other enterprises or employment and consulting extension agents. It was also found that there was a strong positive relationship between price and the level ofre-investment (Pearson's r =0.814). This indicates that higher prices encourage reinvestment in coffee. However, the correlation analysis between price and yields showed a Pearson's correlation coefficient of 0.154 which was statistically insignificant. This implies that although price influenced yields positively, it did not necessarily lead to significantly higher yields. Higher prices need to be supported by the three significant variables in order to increase yields significantly. Agricultural policy effort on small holder coffee farming should thus focus on ensuring farmers get access to adequate credit, diversification of farm income base, and training. ,.