Impact of Improved Sorghum Varieties on Poverty Reduction among Rural Farming Households in Tharaka Nithi County, Kenya
Mwangi, Backson Mutonya
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Poverty alleviation and attainment of food security are among the major concerns facing majority of households in arid and semi-arid land areas of Kenya. The Government of Kenya in partnership with other sector stakeholders have invested heavily in the development and promotion of suitable high yielding improved sorghum varieties that are less susceptible to climate change, pests and diseases. Over the years, sorghum demand has outstripped supply. The deficit supply gap keeps expanding and this trend is unexpected since farmers have been assured of a market and price through forward delivery contracts. The interventions are intended to reduce poverty among adopting households. However, the impact of the interventions is not clear and has not been empirically established. In response, this study formulated three specific objectives where the first aimed to assess the determinants of adoption, intensity of use and speed of uptake of improved sorghum varieties. The second and third attempted to evaluate the profit efficiency and estimate the impact of improved sorghum varieties on poverty reduction respectively. Cross-sectional research design was used and primary data were collected from a sample size of 452 households using a structured questionnaire. Further, focus group discussions and key informant interviews were also conducted. Data were analyzed using Double Hurdle and Duration Analysis models for the first objective. To answer the second objective, Cobb-Douglas Stochastic Profit Frontier was used. Furthermore, 3 models namely; Propensity Score Matching, Inverse Probability Weighted Regression Adjustment and Endogenous Switching Regression models were used to answer the third objective related to impact of improved sorghum varieties on poverty reduction. Findings generated by Double Hurdle and Duration Analysis models indicated that determinants of the three adoption decisions are not necessarily the same. While many variable coefficients depicted expected a priori, distance to the nearest agricultural offices and intensity of use of improved sorghum varieties depicted unexpected positive a priori indicating possible use of home saved seeds. Further, access to agricultural credit returned unexpected negative a priori for both intensity of use and speed of adopting improved sorghum varieties’ decisions. On the other hand, results generated by Cobb-Douglas Stochastic Profit Frontier showed a wide range of profit efficiency from 0.12 to 0.96 for the worst and best sorghum farmer, respectively, with a mean of 0.17. Average treatment effects results generated by the 3 impact models indicated a positive significant difference in daily consumption expenditure per adult equivalent of between USD 0.09 to 0.21. Further, counterfactual results generated by Endogenous Switching Regression model showed that, non-adopters would have increased their consumption expenditure per adult equivalent by on average USD 0.96 daily had they decided to adopt. Therefore, adoption-stimulating policies that target to raise resource endowment of households, improve access to extension service and rural infrastructure need to be implemented. Further, this study advocates for incentive-based policies aimed at widening agro-dealer networks mainly directed to County Government to consider reducing certifications such as trade permits. Additionally, policies targeting to reduce credit providers’ cost of doing business and increase their lending appetite such as use of technology, business champions and guarantee schemes should be developed.