A study of farming systems for small-scale farmers in an important ecological zone in Kabete location Kenya

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University of Dar es Salaam
This study covers 49 small farms in Kabete Location, Kiambu District, near Nairobi, Kenya, located within a coffee, maize, and grazing area. The major food crops are maize, beans, and potatoes. Coffee is the leading cash crop in the area, but potatoes and flowers are also important on the sample farms. Potatoes had the largest value for crops sold followed closely by coffee and flowers. The major livestock are dairy cows and poultry, and approximately 2 cows on average were kept. In terms of total sales, 80 percent was from livestock and their products, with milk and eggs as the leading items. Most farmers live within 21/2km of a major road and most use human labour with or without public vehicles to transport produce to market. At higher altitudes, potatoes are a better subsistence crop than maize and most of those grown in the area are used in that way. The Kenyan Government has taken a keen interest in promoting potatoes as a gash crops including a sizable breeding programme. This study was designed in part to measure the potential for potatoes as a cash enterprise on smallholder farms. An average farm consists of 4.8 acres, of which 4.5 acres are available for crops, and had 2 adults and g children, of which 2 children did some farm work. About 80 percent of the women worked full-time on the farm and most of the remainder worked part-time, but nearly 60 percent of the men had full-time off-farm jobs. In terms of man-equivalents 1.65 family workers per farm were available, excluding children who worked only during vacations. To meet subsistence requirements, 1.5 acres of a maize-beans intercrop and 1.8 acres of potatoes are needed when based on lower-than average yields. Thus, in normal years, some surplus from these acres would be available for sale. Milk supplied some nutrients as ' most families kept cows. The possible cash enterprises in the area include horticultural crops like onions, tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, and cabbage, and livestock like poultry, breeder sows, baconer sows and dairy cows. The cash incomes from these farms can be greatly increased by combining these enterprises appropriately as in the proposed farm plans in this study which offer improvements over the existing ones. About 55 percent of the sample farmers had farm incomes, which included the value for home consumption, below Kshs. 5,000 and only 24 percent had farm incomes above Kshs. 9,000. Several improvements are required to raise these incomes. There is a need to develop an efficient food market such that farmers can specialise without fear of failing to obtain food if they do not grow any on their farms. The proposed farm plan in this study which does not include restrictions for food production has an income which is 2.6 times that with the highest income plus these restrictions. Roads are needed to ensure produce reaches the market, and inputs are distributed on time. Water is needed for irrigation and for the livestock enterprises. The market for feeds particularly for pigs and poultry needs improvements. Credit for improving small-scale farmers' incomes needs to be looked into as many sample farmers said they lacked money for improvements and 90 percent of them did not use any credit. There is a need for research into optimum plant populations in intercrops and into crop pest control.
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Agriculture, Kenya, Kiambu (district), Kiambu, Kenya (district), Economic conditions
Munene, S. M. W (1979) A study of farming systems for small-scale farmers in an important ecological zone in Kabete location Kenya, Masters dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam. Available at (