Socio-Economic Factors Influencing Smallholder Pumpkin Production, Consumption and Marketing in Eastern and Central Kenya Regions
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Pumpkin is an indigenous vegetable with huge potential to provide nutrition, food security and income to households in Kenya but its production remains low. The crop has been given little attention in research and has not been promoted as a viable enterprise. Literature indicates that socio-economic factors and farming constraints in pumpkin production, consumption and marketing by smallholder farmers in Eastern and Central Kenya have not been studied nor documented. This research was carried out to assess these factors and constraints in order to inform the development of appropriate policy interventions for improved pumpkin production, consumption and marketing. The study was carried out in eight major pumpkin growing Sub-Counties in the semi-arid areas of Eastern Kenya and medium altitude areas of Central Kenya. The objectives of the study were to (a) assess the influence of demographic and socio-economic factors on pumpkin production; (b) analyze uses of pumpkin products and socio-cultural practices in pumpkin consumption by smallholder farmers; (c) determine farm households, traders and market characteristics influencing pumpkin marketing; and (d) identify and analyze the major constraints in smallholder pumpkin production and marketing in Eastern and Central Kenya regions. A household survey of 260 pumpkin growing households and a market survey of 172 primary traders were conducted using structured questionnaires. The collected data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, multiple regression and Tobit model analysis with the aid of SPSS and Stata computer software. The research showed that pumpkin productivity by smallholder farmers in Eastern and Central Kenya regions was below the national average of 20 tons per hectare. Age and education level of household head, household size, on-farm income, farm area under pumpkins and engagement in off farm activities were statistically significant and positively influenced smallholder pumpkin production in Eastern and Central Kenya. Pumpkin fruits and leaves were mainly used as food while seeds were mainly used for planting by majority of the households. Household size and distance to market were statistically significant with negative influence on the marketed pumpkin proportion among farm households in Eastern and Central Kenya. Membership in farmers group was significant in Eastern Kenya while market price and gender of household head were significant in Central Kenya. These factors positively influenced the proportion of marketed pumpkin among the farm households. Market price, membership in marketing associations, selling frequency and distance to market were statistically significant and positively influenced market participation by pumpkin traders in Eastern and Central Kenya. The major constraints in pumpkin production were pests, diseases and insufficient rainfall while the main marketing constraints were poor market prices, exploitation by brokers, post-harvest losses, inadequate market information, low consumer awareness and low demand. The proposed policy interventions include farmers’ education and strategies to promote pumpkin production, strategies to enhance access to physical markets and market information, organizing farmers into marketing groups, improvement of market infrastructure and organizing pumpkin traders into marketing associations or groups.