Socio-Economic Attributes Hindering Adoption of Alternative Crops to Tobacco Farming in Kehancha Division, Kuria West Sub-County, Kenya
Maroa, Mariba John
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Studies have documented many negative social, economic and environmental implications of tobacco farming. Tobacco farming puts an extra stress on ecosystems and causes specific health and socio-economic problems for poor populations engaged in the activity. Through research, environmentally friendly and sustainable alternative crops to tobacco farming such as soya beans, watermelons, sweet potatoes, groundnuts, cabbages, among others, have been identified. However, the rate and level of adoption of such crops is low in many regions, Kuria region being one of them. This study focused on examining the socio-economic attributes hindering adoption of alternative crops to tobacco farming in Kehancha Division, Kuria West Sub-County, Kenya. The objectives of the study were; to examine the influence of farmer attributes in the adoption of alternative crops, to explore the influence of farm characteristics in the adoption of alternative crops to tobacco farming, and to examine the contribution of extension, credit and market access in the adoption of alternative crops to tobacco farming in Kehancha Division. Descriptive survey design was used in the study since it was appropriate in capturing issues in their natural setting. The target population was tobacco and non-tobacco farmers in the division. Proportional stratified sampling and simple random sampling were used to select sub-locations and villages. Simple random sampling was also used to select adopters and non-adopters to get the required sample size, which was 108. Purposive sampling was used to get key informants. Primary quantitative and qualitative data were collected through household surveys using structured questionnaires and interviews using interview schedules with both closed and open-ended questions while secondary data were collected from relevant documented sources. Quantitative data were analyzed through simple descriptive statistics such as frequency distributions, totals and percentages. Relationships amongst variables were analyzed through correlation by regression analysis. Qualitative data were cleaned, organized, coded and analyzed through emerging themes. Based on objective one, the study found that age, education level and household size influenced adoption of alternative crops to tobacco farming with correlation coefficient of 0.444, 0.226 and -0.406 respectively. On objective two, it was found that input challenge influenced adoption of alternative crops negatively with a correlation coefficient of -0.554. Household land size and the level of production had no significant influence in the adoption of alternative crops to tobacco farming. In regard to objective three, the source of agricultural information, agricultural information challenge, credit and market access had significant influence in the adoption of alternative crops to tobacco farming with correlation coefficients of -0.281, -0.177, 0.176 and 0.162 respectively. The study, therefore, recommends that the national and county governments in collaboration with other key stakeholders including the local NGOs make efforts to encourage farmers to adopt alternative crops through awareness creation, provide inputs, adequate extension services, affordable credit facilities and enhance market structures for alternative crops especially for those farmers willing to adopt alternative crops to tobacco farming in the area. In addition, the farmers should be encouraged to form commodityspecific cooperative societies so as to aid their participation in marketing their produce.