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Are Kenyan farmers under-utilizing fertilizer? Implications for input intensification strategies and research

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  • Sheahan, Megan
  • Black, Roy
  • Jayne, T.S.

Abstract

It is widely perceived that African farmers are under-utilizing inorganic fertilizer. However, very little long-term evidence from farmers’ fields, accounting for variations in agro-ecological conditions, has been assembled to back this claim or determine the conditions under which it is true. Using five waves of nationwide household survey data from Kenya covering 13years, we estimate the relative and absolute profitability of nitrogen application rates on maize fields and compare these profitability conditions to observed nitrogen use patterns over time. In general, we find that farmers are consistently and steadily increasing towards risk-adjusted economically optimal rates of fertilizer application over time and that, in the most agriculturally productive areas, farmers’ application rates on maize sometimes exceed rates that maximize profitability. Fertilizer use rates may nevertheless be profitably raised in these areas, but doing so will require the adoption of complementary inputs and management practices that raise maize response rates to fertilizer application. This motivates a more holistic approach to input intensification strategies in the region.

Suggested Citation

  • Sheahan, Megan & Black, Roy & Jayne, T.S., 2013. "Are Kenyan farmers under-utilizing fertilizer? Implications for input intensification strategies and research," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 39-52.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jfpoli:v:41:y:2013:i:c:p:39-52
    DOI: 10.1016/j.foodpol.2013.04.008
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Liverpool-Tasie, Lenis Saweda O. & Omonona, Bolarin T. & Sanou, Awa & Ogunleye, Wale O., 2017. "Is increasing inorganic fertilizer use for maize production in SSA a profitable proposition? Evidence from Nigeria," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 41-51.
    2. Catherine Ragasa & Antony Chapoto, 2017. "Moving in the right direction? The role of price subsidies in fertilizer use and maize productivity in Ghana," Food Security: The Science, Sociology and Economics of Food Production and Access to Food, Springer;The International Society for Plant Pathology, vol. 9(2), pages 329-353, April.
    3. Sheahan, Megan & Ariga, Joshua & Jayne, Thomas S., 2013. "Modeling the Effects of Input Market Reforms on Fertilizer Demand and Maize Production: A Case Study of Kenya," 2013 Annual Meeting, August 4-6, 2013, Washington, D.C. 150697, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    4. Estelle Koussoubé & Céline Nauges, 2017. "Returns to fertiliser use: Does it pay enough? Some new evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa," European Review of Agricultural Economics, Foundation for the European Review of Agricultural Economics, vol. 44(2), pages 183-210.
    5. Ragasa, Catherine & Lambrecht, Isabel & Kufoalor, Doreen S., 2018. "Limitations of Contract Farming as a Pro-poor Strategy: The Case of Maize Outgrower Schemes in Upper West Ghana," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 30-56.
    6. Muyanga, Milu & Jayne, T.S., 2014. "Effects of rising rural population density on smallholder agriculture in Kenya," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 98-113.
    7. Sheahan, Megan & Barrett, Christopher B., 2014. "Understanding the agricultural input landscape in Sub-Saharan Africa : recent plot, household, and community-level evidence," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7014, The World Bank.
    8. Sheahan, Megan & Olwande, John & Kirimi, Lilian & Jayne, Thom S., 2014. "Targeting of Subsidized Fertilizer Under Kenya's National Accelerated Agricultural Input Access Program (NAAIAP)," Working Papers 202590, Egerton University, Tegemeo Institute of Agricultural Policy and Development.
    9. Jayne, T.S. & Mason, Nicole M. & Burke, William J. & Ariga, Joshua, 2016. "Agricultural Input Subsidy Programs in Africa: An Assessment of Recent Evidence," Food Security International Development Working Papers 245892, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
    10. Lambrecht, Isabel & Vanlauwe, Bernard & Maertens, Miet, 2014. "Integrated soil fertility management: from concept to practice in eastern DR Congo," Working Papers 180062, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Centre for Agricultural and Food Economics.
    11. Lambrecht, Isabel & Vanlauwe, Bernard & Maertens, Miet, 2014. "Agricultural extension in eastern DR Congo: Does Gender Matter?," 2014 International Congress, August 26-29, 2014, Ljubljana, Slovenia 182731, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    12. Larson,Donald F. & Muraoka,Rie & Otsuka,Keijiro, 2016. "On the central role of small farms in African rural development strategies," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7710, The World Bank.
    13. Lambrecht, Isabel & Vanlauwe, Bernard & Maertens, Miet, 2014. "What is the sense of gender targeting in agricultural extension programs? Evidence from eastern DR Congo," Working Papers 167158, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Centre for Agricultural and Food Economics.
    14. Lunduka, Rodney & Ricker-Gilbert, Jacob & Shively, Gerald & Jayne, Thom, 2014. "Redefining the goals and objectives of the Farm Input Subsidy Program (FISP) in Malawi," Food Security Collaborative Policy Briefs 234945, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
    15. repec:eee:jfpoli:v:69:y:2017:i:c:p:97-109 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Ngoma, Hambulo & Mason, Nicole M. & Sitko, Nicholas, 2015. "Does Minimum Tillage with Planting Basins or Ripping Raise Maize Yields? Meso-panel Data Evidence from Zambia," Food Security Collaborative Working Papers 198701, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
    17. Sheahan, Megan & Barrett, Christopher B., 2017. "Ten striking facts about agricultural input use in Sub-Saharan Africa," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 12-25.
    18. Megan Sheahan & Joshua Ariga & T. S. Jayne, 2016. "Modeling the Effects of Input Market Reforms on Fertiliser Demand and Maize Production: A Case Study from Kenya," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(2), pages 420-447, June.
    19. Mason, Nicole M. & Wineman, Ayala & Kirimi, Lilian & Mather, David, 2016. "The Effects of Kenya’s ‘Smarter’ Input Subsidy Program on Smallholder Behavior and Incomes: Do Different Quasi-Experimental Approaches Lead to the Same Conclusions?," Food Security Collaborative Working Papers 232090, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
    20. repec:bla:jageco:v:68:y:2017:i:1:p:45-69 is not listed on IDEAS
    21. Mason, Nicole M. & Wineman, Ayala & Kirimi, Lilian & Mather, David, 2015. "The effects of Kenya’s ‘smarter’ input subsidy," Food Security Collaborative Policy Briefs 232093, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
    22. Liverpool-Tasie, Lenis Saweda O. & Omonona, Bolarin T. & Sanou, Awa & Ogunleye, Wale, 2015. "Is increasing inorganic fertilizer use in Sub-Saharan Africa a profitable proposition ? evidence from Nigeria," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7201, The World Bank.
    23. repec:eee:agisys:v:154:y:2017:i:c:p:90-99 is not listed on IDEAS
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    25. Ragasa, Catherine & Chapoto, Anthony, 2016. "Limits to green revolution in rice in Africa: The case of Ghana:," IFPRI discussion papers 1561, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

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