Dynamics of Sugarcane Production among Small –Scale Growers in Bungoma County, Kenya
Protas, Khaemba F.
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The sugar industry is an important agricultural sector in Kenya. In 1995, the industry had employed over 35,000 workers and supported over 2 million people in Western Kenya. Sugar production is a major contributor to the economy and has led to approximately 16% growth to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product .The sub sector despite of having greater contribution to the country its output rate is declining and for now it is at 65 tonnes per hectare comparing with the approximated average national output of 100 tonnes per hectare. Due to the decline, many researchers have conducted studies concerning the sugar industry sector. Many researchers have focused much on factors determining productivity of sugarcane and leaving the gap on the socio economic factor causing the decline and the strategies to solve such crises. This study aims to investigate the dynamics of rate of sugarcane output among farmers growing on small scale in Bungoma County, Kenya. Specifically, the study sought to identify characteristics of small-scale sugarcane growers affecting sugarcane production in Bungoma County; determine socio-economic challenges facing sugarcane production in Bungoma County; and investigate the coping strategies adopted by small-scale sugarcane growers in the area of study. The study basing on the Production Theory, correlation design was the guiding parameter in the research process. The population targeted in the study comprised 5,838 small scale sugarcane farmers in Bumula Sub-County. Through multi-stage sampling procedures, divisions and villages were selected for interviewing the sugarcane farmers. Questionnaires were administered to 96 household heads out of 100 sampled. 10 members from each of the two focus groups were interviewed to give more insight on the study objectives. The questionnaire data yielded a reliability coefficient of approximately 0.9 after results representation using Cronbach Alpha’s Measure of Internal consistency. Data recorded during the process was analyzed using two major tools the Microsoft excel and statistical package. Data summaries were in numerical form enabling the use of regressions to show relationship between independent and dependent study variables and sugarcane production. Using Pearson correlation the association between study variables and their significance was established. From data analysis coefficient of determination was at 0.675 indicating that there was 67.5% variance in sugarcane output relating to the study variables. The F value approximated as 161.406 indicates that regression model was fitting well. The model had no serious multicollinearity problems in model since the mean variance of inflation factor (VIF) was 2.349. The study revealed that education level, farm size, land ownership, farming experience, incentives, record keeping systems, extension education, cane by-products and non-contracted cane farming had significant positive effect on cane output. Input cost was found to be a major contributor of declining cane output since it had significant setback on sugarcane production. The study recommends that poor cane pricing, lack of extension education and inadequate financing in cane development in the sugar sector be addressed, to reverse the outcome and increase the potential of sugarcane production. Therefore a need arises to enhance income-generating activities like improving the micro- businesses environment and value addition to sugarcane by-products to increase cane production. There is a need to form collaborations between sugarcane firms, small-scale famers, as well as mentorship from stake-holders so that small-scale growers are well educated on the practice of sugarcane farming, and the challenges that go with it. This will result in enhanced sugarcane production in the area.