Household food security and commercialization among smallholder farmers in Kenya

Millicent Olunga, a Senior Research Assistant at the Institute presented a paper on Household food security and commercialization among smallholder farmers in Kenya. The paper aimed at establishing the factors associated with various food security positions among rural households in Kenya. In particular the paper sought to determine if commercialization which is an avenue for food security had effect on household food security position.

Commercialization was defined in this paper as participation in input (use of fertilizers and improved seed) and output (sale of crop products) markets. The results showed that commercialization is associated with a reduction in the risk of being in the food poor and oscillator groups compared to the food non poor group.

This implies that appropriate approaches that ensure participation in the input and output markets will enhance the chances of the food poor and oscillators exiting the food insecurity position. This could be achieved through increasing access to inputs by provision of subsidized fertilizers and seed in smaller packs that meet the smallholder farmers’ needs and also broadening the options/avenues through which they can be obtained.

In addition facilitating innovations and interventions that enhance household access to land (e.g. reduction in bureaucracies involved in accessing land title), education (inclusion of secondary education as a basic necessity i.e. making it free for all), savings (identifying and promoting avenues adopted by farmers that assist them in saving) and participating in off-farm activities/ employment, will assist households in getting out of food insecurity.

Authors: Lilian Kirimi, Raphael Gitau, Millicent Olunga