The purpose for this study was to investigate factors influencing maize production among small scale farmers of Bungoma Central Sub County, Kenya. The study was guided by the following objectives: to investigate how costs of production influence maize production of small scale farmers, to establish how demographic characteristics influence maize production of small scale farmers, to determine how extension services influence maize production of small scale farmers and to examine how accessibility to credit influence maize production of small scale farmers of Bungoma Central Sub County. The study adopted descriptive survey design which was used to obtain information to describe the existing phenomena. The target population was 18,580 both male and female consisting of small scale farmers. The estimated sample size was 202 from the target population using Cochran 1963 formula at 7% level significance. The study employed stratified random sampling in order to include all the wards; proportionate allocation was used to determine the number of farmers from each ward that would be the respondents in the study. Systemic random sampling was used to select the actual respondents from the wards. Content validity was used where the researcher shared the research instrument with his supervisors to assess its appropriateness in content. Split half method was employed to test the reliability of the instrument. A questionnaire with closed ended questions was prepared and distributed to the respondents in all the wards. The questionnaires were then collected after one week. All the questionnaires were filled and were used for analysis. Data was analyzed using descriptive method. Frequency tables and percentages were used for data presentation after analysis. The findings revealed that fertilizer remains the most costly input in maize production, followed by land preparation. Also most farmers do not attend field days and only a negligible percentage have access to credit. The national and county governments should avail subsidized fertilizer in good time and make it easily accessible. Proper sensitization should be done by agricultural extension officers to all farmers about the available extension services and county government should provide sufficient facilitation to agricultural extension officers to promote extension services. Farmers should be encouraged to form groups in order to access credit services, market their produce and acquire farm inputs collectively. Both national, county governments and financial institutions should make credit easily accessible and affordable to small scale farmers. The researcher recommends further research on causes of low attendance of field days and low level of accessing extension services in general to ascertain the underlying causes of low dissemination of extension information.
1.1 Background of the study
Maize is one of the most important cereal crops in the world, in agricultural economy both as food for human beings, feed for animals and other industrial raw materials. It is one of the world’s leading crops cultivated over an area of about 142 million hectares with a production of 637 million tons of grain. In Nepal, the current area planted under maize was 849,892 ha with an average yield of 2.02 t ha (CBS, 2006). It is estimated that for the next two decades the overall demand of maize will be increased by 4% ∼8% per annum resulting from the increased demand for food. Such increase in demand must be met by increasing the productivity of maize per unit of land (Paudyal et al., 2001; Pingali, 2001). However, over the decades, the agricultural production including maize has either remained stagnant or increased at a very slow rate (Kaini, 2004).
Maize is the staple food in Zambia and most small-scale farming households are engaged in maize production. Fertilizer is used predominantly on maize and agricultural marketing is dominated by maize sales among smallholders (Govereh et al., 2003).Improving maize productivity has been a major goal of the Zambian government. Over 80% of smallholder farmers nationwide own less than 5 hectares of land. Zambian government agricultural policy has for the past several decades focused on fertilizer subsidies and targeted credit programs to stimulate small farmers’ agricultural productivity, enhance food security and ultimately reduce poverty.
Agriculture in Nigeria as in most other developing countries is dominated by small scale farm producers (Oladeebo, 2004). Education of farmers, farm size, extension agent contact, farm income, ability to predict rainfall, modern communication facilities, output of maize and mixed cropping combination with maize have positive influence on maize production. Mpuga (2004) conducted a research study in Uganda to investigate the factors which affect demand for agricultural credit. The findings of the study reveal that the demand for agricultural credit is strongly and significantly affected by the age, location, education
level, value of the assets held by the household, occupation, and other dwelling characteristics. On the other hand, the availability of the sources of credit has limited effect on the demand for credit.
Olwande et al., (2009) in Kenya also confirm that age, education, credit, presence of a cash crop, distance to fertilizer market and agro ecological potential significantly influenced maize production by smallholder farmers. Wanyama et al., (2009) in Kenya showed that change agent (extension) visit to farmers, proportion of land under maize production, sex of household head, and agricultural training significantly affected likelihood of farmers adopting new technologies in maize production. Maize is the main staple in the diet of over 85 per cent of the population in Kenya. The per capita consumption ranges between 98 to 100 kilograms which translates to at least 2700 thousand metric tonnes, per year (Nyoro et al., 2004). Small scale production accounts for about 70 per cent of the overall production. The remaining 30 per cent of the output is from large scale commercial producers (Export Processing Zone Authority, 2005). Small scale producers mainly grow the crop for subsistence, retaining up to about 58 per cent of their total output for household consumption (Mbithi, 2000). Poor weather is blamed for the low output of maize in some years. However, yields have also remained at an average of 2 tonnes per hectare below the possible 6 tonnes per hectare a situation attributed to inadequate absorption of modern production technologies such as high yielding maize varieties and fertilizers because of high input costs, lack of access to credit and inadequate extension services to small scale producers (Kang’ethe, 2004).
1.2. Statement of the Problem
Maize is the staple food for most Kenyan households and grown in all the farming communities. Due to diminishing farm sizes in Bungoma Central Sub County, crop productivity and the efficiency of farming systems are of great concern. Many researchers and policymakers have focused on the impact of adoption of new technologies in increasing farm productivity and income (Hayami and Ruttan, 1985). Increasing per capita food production, productivity and raising rural incomes are key challenges facing small-scale farmers in Bungoma Central Sub County. Here, over fifty percent of the population lives
below the poverty line and are food insecure (CBS, 2001, World Bank, 2000). According to the World Bank, (2000) definition, spending less than one USA dollar per person per day is considered to be below poverty line. Recent studies show that soil nutrient mining is widespread in western Kenya, resulting into land degradation and low crop productivity. This situation undermines the ability of many agrarian households to produce enough food for household subsistence (FAO, 2004, Smaling et al., 1993, Tittonell et al., 2005). To attain this objective, provision of soil-related information services to the farmers such as application of inorganic fertilizers, organic manure, soil and water management and the use of improved commercial seeds, with the overall aim of addressing the rampant problems of soil and land degradation is imperative.
Agricultural productivity in Bungoma Central Sub County has continued to decline over the last two decades and poverty levels have increased (Ministry of Agriculture Bungoma Central Sub County 2014). On average maize yield is 8 bags per acre in Bungoma Central Sub County compared to the average yields of 18 bags per acre in Kimilili, 15 bags in Webuye, 12 bags in Bungoma South, 20 bags of Mt Elgon sub counties, (annual report 2013, ministry of agriculture Bungoma County). The problem of declining maize yields is magnified by the fact that population continues to increase annually at a rate of about 4.3% leading to decreasing per capita consumption with a population density of 570 people per km2. Therefore increasing maize productivity in Bungoma Central Sub County is of urgent necessity and one of the fundamental ways of improving food security.
1.3. Purpose of the study
The purpose of this study was to investigate factors influencing maize production among small scale farmers of Bungoma Central Sub County.
1.4. The Objectives of the Study
The study was guided by the following objectives:
1) To investigate how costs of production influence maize production of small scale farmers of Bungoma Central Sub County.
2) To establish how demographic characteristics of small scale farmers influence maize
production in Bungoma Central Sub County.
3) To determine how agricultural extension services influence maize production of small scale farmers of Bungoma Central Sub County.
4) To examine how accessibility to credit influence maize production among small scale farmers of Bungoma Central Sub County.
1.5. Research questions
1) To what extent did costs of production influence maize production of small scale farmers of Bungoma Central Sub County?
2) How did demographic factors influence maize production of small scale farmers of Bungoma Central Sub County?
3) To what extent did extension services influence maize production of small scale farmers of Bungoma Central Sub County?
4) To what extent did accessibility to credit influence maize production of small scale farmers of Bungoma Central Sub County?
1.6. Significance of the Study
The study findings and recommendations were hoped to help both the national and county governments to implement policies that can revitalize maize production and encourage other stakeholder participation on food security initiatives.
The study was endeavored to provide information to agricultural extension personnel to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the farmers in maize production and come up with appropriate capacity building programmes. Also for agricultural extension officers to examine their own weaknesses and strengths as change agents and come up with appropriate corrective measures to improve maize yields among small scale farmers.
The findings were hoped to provide information to small scale maize farmers to efficiently produce high maize yields with minimal inputs thereby maximizing profit.
The research study is also hoped to provide a base for further research on maize production issues especially among small scale farmers.
The research is also hoped to be a reference material in the University of Nairobi’s Library. This will consequently hasten the realization of the MDGs and also vision 2030 in the Sub County and the whole nation at large.
1.7. Delimitations of the Study
Delimitation is the process of reducing the study population and area to a manageable size. This research was delimited in terms of the scope that it covered. It only targeted small scale maize farmers in Bungoma Central Sub County.