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Working Paper 62: Agricultural Information Sources and their Effect on Farm Productivity in Kenya

Abstract

Agriculture information within the reach of farmers plays a vital role towards improved productivity and enhanced economic development. Globally, agriculture extension has been used as a tool for disseminating agriculture information to farmers. Extension services are seen as key investments that if efficiently utilized can enhance sustainable agriculture. In Kenya, Agriculture extension has been highlighted as a critical agent for transforming subsistence farming to modern and commercial agriculture thereby improving household food security, incomes and reducing poverty. Traditionally, delivery of extension services to farmers was predominantly the government’s role. However, recent transformation in extension has resulted to adoption of a pluralistic system which comprises multiple sources of information. Despite this, literature on the effect of these sources of information on farm productivity is limited. This study therefore sought to identify the various actors involved in provision of agriculture extension services in Kenya, and their effect on farm productivity. From our results, there are three major sources of agriculture information in Kenya. These are; public, private for-profit and private nonprofit extension service providers. However, farmers’ preference for any of the sources is significantly influenced by a number of socio-economic characteristics like age, group membership, household size, land size and ownership of a mobile phone. In addition, despite the existence of many service providers, only 21% of the sampled farmers accessed extension services within the reference period, with public extension services being the most utilized. This is significantly low considering the large number of farmers in need of such information. Moreover, although the public extension system has overly been criticized for its inefficiency, this is largely dependent on the enterprise in question. Therefore, increased investment in extension and strengthening the modalities for coordination between public and private extension service providers will improve the efficiency and quality of extension services.

Key words: Agriculture information, Extension, Multinomial Logistic, Information sources

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