Household Food Security in Commercialized Subsistence Economies: Factors Influencing Dietary Diversity of Smallholder Tea Farmers in Nandi South, Kenya
Policies fronting commercialization of agriculture in Kenya assumed that realization of increased household incomes, through cultivation of cash crops, would guarantee improved food security and subsequent reduction of poverty. However, most communities in Kenya growing cash crops are currently struggling to put food on the table. Nandi South is a maize deficit zone despite being 68% arable and having good climate (GoK, 2005). Population pressure has led to competition for limited land resource, coupled with unfavourable poverty indicators; they have impacted negatively on food access in the district. Specifically significant is smallholder tea population in Nandi Hills division. The study focused the population of smallholder tea farmers in Nandi South who supply their tea leaves to the Multinational tea estates. The main objective was to investigate the factors influencing households’ food security among smallholder tea farmers in Nandi South. A modified Almost Ideal Demand System (AIDS) was used to model food demand of the smallholder households. Multi-stage proportional-to-size cluster sampling was used to sample 180 households. Data was collected using both questionnaires and interviews. Results point out that income, savings, food storage, land productivity, off-farm income, ratio of land allocated to tea significantly influence household food security. Policies that aim at improving household food security among smallholder cash crop farmers should target at increasing and diversifying household income sources and farm enterprises, provision of saving opportunities, storage facilities and proper allocation of land resource between cash crops and food crops.
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