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The impact of agroforestry-based soil fertility replenishment practices on the poor in Western Kenya


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  • Place, Frank
  • Adato, Michelle
  • Hebinck, Paul
  • Mary Omosa


"This case study explores the relationships between agroforestry-based soil fertility replenishment (SFR) systems (improved fallows and biomass transfer) and poverty reduction in rural western Kenya. It further examines the role that different dissemination approaches play in conditioning which segments of society gain access to information to the technologies and then uses them. The study made use of many different qualitative and quantitative data collection methods and samples from both pilot areas where researchers maintained a significant presence and nonpilot areas where farmers learned of the technologies through other channels. Adoption processes were analyzed quantitatively using almost 2,000 households while changes in impact indicators were measured for just over 100 households. Qualitative methods included case studies for 40 households, where researchers lived in the villages for six months, and focus group discussions involving 16 different groups. The findings showed that poverty is rampant among households and appeared to worsen during the study period. The poor were reached by many different information providers and liked certain aspects of almost all types of organizations, from government extension to community group-based methods. Access to information is mediated by social relationships of wealth, gender and status; nevertheless, poor farmers acquired a significant amount of knowledge about soil fertility management. Adoption rates are not outstanding but they are encouraging, with about 20% of all farmers using the technologies on a regular basis, and a sizable percentage of farmers newly testing. Unlike some agricultural technologies historically, SFR was found not to be biased toward people controlling and managing resources above a certain threshold. The study also found that the poor were using the agroforestry technologies to a much greater extent than they were fertilizer (about 33% of farmers not using any other soil fertility practice were trying the new systems). The technologies were almost always at least doubling yields of maize. Despite these promising signs, the systems were not found to be linked to improved household-level food security or poverty indicators, primarily because the size of the fields under the agroforestry systems was, on average, quite small." Authors' Abstract

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in its series FCND discussion papers with number 160.

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Date of creation: 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fpr:fcnddp:160

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Keywords: Sustainable livelihoods ; Agricultural research ;

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  1. Kadiyala, Suneetha & Gillespie, Stuart, 2003. "Rethinking food aid to fight AIDS," FCND discussion papers 159, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  2. Swinkels, R.A. & Franzel, S. & Shepherd, K.D. & Ohlsson, E. & Ndufa, J.K., 1997. "The economics of short rotation improved fallows: evidence from areas of high population density in Western Kenya," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 99-121, September.
  3. Place, Frank & Adato, Michelle & Hebinck, Paul & Mary Omosa, 2003. "The impact of agroforestry-based soil fertility replenishment practices on the poor in Western Kenya," FCND briefs 160, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  4. Loevinsohn, Michael & Gillespie, Stuart, 2003. "HIV/AIDS, food security and rural livelihoods," FCND briefs 157, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  5. Meinzen-Dick, Ruth Suseela & Adato, Michelle & Haddad, Lawrence James & Hazell, P.B.R., 2004. "Science and poverty," Food policy reports 16, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  6. Haddad, Lawrence James & Adato, Michelle, 2001. "How effectively do public works programs transfer benefits to the poor?," FCND briefs 108, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  7. Hans-Peter Kohler & Jere R. Behrman & Susan Cotts Watkins, 1999. "The structure of social networks and fertility decisions: evidence from S. Nyanza District, Kenya," MPIDR Working Papers WP-1999-005, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
  8. Fafchamps, Marcel & Quisumbing, Agnes R., 1999. "Social roles, human capital, and the intrahousehold division of labor," FCND discussion papers 73, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
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Cited by:
  1. Place, Frank & Adato, Michelle & Hebinck, Paul & Mary Omosa, 2003. "The impact of agroforestry-based soil fertility replenishment practices on the poor in Western Kenya," FCND briefs 160, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  2. Place, Frank & Adato, Michelle & Hebinck, Paul, 2007. "Understanding Rural Poverty and Investment in Agriculture: An Assessment of Integrated Quantitative and Qualitative Research in Western Kenya," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 312-325, February.
  3. Akinola, A.A. & Alene, Arega D. & Adeyemo, R. & Sanogo, D. & Olanrewaju, A.S. & Nwoke, C. & Nziguheba, G., 0. "Determinants of adoption and intensity of use of balance nutrient management systems technologies in the northern Guinea savanna of Nigeria," Quarterly Journal of International Agriculture, Humboldt-Universit├Ąt zu Berlin, vol. 49.
  4. Adato, Michelle & Meinzen-Dick, Ruth Suseela (ed.), 2007. "Agricultural research, livelihoods, and poverty: Studies of economic and social impacts in six countries," IFPRI books, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), number 978-0-8018-8721-6.
  5. Kiptot, Evelyne & Hebinck, Paul & Franzel, Steven & Richards, Paul, 2007. "Adopters, testers or pseudo-adopters? Dynamics of the use of improved tree fallows by farmers in western Kenya," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 94(2), pages 509-519, May.
  6. Adato, Michelle & Meinzen-Dick, Ruth Suseela, 2002. "Assessing the impact of agricultural research on poverty using the sustainable livelihoods framework," FCND briefs 128, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).


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