Nambiro, Elizabeth: Trends in land use and agricultural intensification in Kakamega, Western Kenya. - Bonn, 2008. - Dissertation, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn.
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author = {{Elizabeth Nambiro}},
title = {Trends in land use and agricultural intensification in Kakamega, Western Kenya},
school = {Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn},
year = 2008,
note = {The Kakamega District in Western Kenya is characterized by high population densities (600 people per km2) and shrinking of agricultural resource base. Agriculture is the mainstay of the majority of the population. Farmers in Kakamega adopt land, capital or labor-intensive strategies to meet the growing needs for food, income and employment. A quantitative understanding of land use trends, agricultural intensification and of their driving forces is required to target technology options and intervention measures. This thesis explores the trends in land use changes between 1986 and 2004, the main agricultural intensification strategies, as well as their driving forces and implications. Primary data were collected from some 243 households in the year 2005 by the use of a structured questionnaire. The households were selected out of the representative household clusters of the national census framework (Kenya National Sample Survey and Evaluation Program). Data analysis was based on the combined use of GIS techniques (digitized time series aerial photographs) and the use of standard household models of technology uptake (Tobit and Probit).
Over 50% of the farmers live below the poverty line. The land use system in Kakamega is characterized as permanent cultivation. Yields of the main food crops like maize and beans are declining and the use of external inputs is low and largely limited to industrial crops (sugar cane and tea). Land fragmentation index is 0.6 with the average farm size of 0.9 ha per household. In order to raise the levels of agriculture production four main agricultural intensification strategies were used: 1) the expansion of the cropping area by cultivation of fallow land. The area under food crops increased from 48% to 53% and that under sugarcane from 22% to 42% between the year 1986 and 2004. During the same period, the fallow land decreased from 18% to 7% of the arable area. No further expansion of cultivation into fallow areas is possible today. 2) An increased use of external inputs was the strategy of choice to sustain production levels during the periods when mineral fertilizer was subsidized prior to mid 1980s. However, this strategy is capital-intensive and today it is restricted to the few large farms or to those growing industrial crops. 3) An increased cropping intensity by intercropping and multiple cropping can be observed since the mid 1990s. This strategy has also reached its limits as today most farmers practice maize - bean intercropping and the Ruthenberg value of land use intensity is approaching one. 4) An increased use of labor, mainly for land preparation, weeding operations and harvesting. However, family labor investment already reaches a maximum of 40 man-days per ha during high peak labor requirement and a further intensification in labor use is restricted to farmers that are able to hire labor. The agricultural intensification strategies differ between households and depend on the socio-economic characteristic of the farmer, market factors and the biophysical conditions. The remaining agricultural intensification strategies to improve productivity are linked to efficient use of external inputs. Potential technological options to improve productivity or to counteract the resource base degradation are available but require some modification to fit the prevailing biophysical conditions, as well as to the socio-economic attributes of the household. The targeting of such technical options to specific niches is seen to be the priority of future research and extension efforts in Kakamega.},

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