UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Description and comparison of the factors affecting production and management practices in two ecologically different agro-pastoral communities of Makueni district, Kenya Gitunu, Anthony Mwai Macharia


During the months of April through July 1991 and June through July and 1992, a study was conducted to describe and compare the primary factors that affect management practices in two ecological agro—pastoral communities (Kasikeu: eco—zone IV and Mtito-Andei: eco-zone V) in Makueni district of Kenya. Sample families were chosen from Kasikeu (n=32) and Mtito Andei (n=31). A questionnaire was used for filling in the information as perceived and given by the respondents. Family heads were the interviewees but where they were absent, wives or resident sons represented them. The agro-pastoralists of Kasikeu and Mtito-Andei belong to a major bantu tribe called Akamba and generally have the same traditional and cultural background. The two communities therefore generally practised similar farm production activ ities regardless of their land ecological potential. The two communities were also affected more or less similarly by factors such as human population pressure, intro duction of a cash economy, education and amenities associated with sedentarization. Generally these factors have caused the agro-pastoralists to adopt diversified lifestyles which were normally not adopted in the old traditional systems. Such practices include habitation of tsetse fly infested areas, change of land tenure, adoption of sedentary lifestyle, use of cash as a basis for most transactions, use of livestock manure and chemicals to improve crop and livestock production, adoption of commercial horticultural farming, change of dietary habits, engagement in various small—scale business activities, and emphasis on child education and training. Albeit the differences in ecological potential of the study areas, management practices and other behaviours were similar in both study areas (eco—zones). In a few cases however, differences in the management levels existed between the two communities. For instance, the proportions of livestock owned in terms of cattle, sheep, goats, chickens, rabbits and ducks and varied (P<0.00l) between eco—zones. Kasikeu maintained higher proportions than Mtito-Andei of sheep (11.2% versus 7.2%) and rabbits (2.8% versus 0.2%) but a smaller proportion of goats (22.4% versus 30.4%). The number of donkeys encountered in the two areas were too few to warrant inclusion in the analysis. The proportions of livestock prices offered by buyers and accepted by the agro—pastoralists at the local market places, for cattle, sheep and goats varied (P<0.001) between eGo— zones. Kasikeu earned higher proportions than Mtito—Andei of the income from cattle sales (91.5% versus 79.2%) whereas Mtito-Andei earned higher proportions than Kasikeu of the income from sales of sheep (4.8% versus 1.0%) and goats (16.0% versus 7.5%). Proportions of the on—farm and off—farm watering places also varied (P<0.004) between eco—zones. Kasikeu respondents more commonly than Mtito—Andei respondents (77.4% versus 40.7%), watered their livestock on water sources located within their farms. The proportions of the total off-farm income attributed to salary/wage earning as being either greater or less than 50%, varied ( P<0.032) between eco—zones. Mtito—Andei recorded a higher proportion than Kasikeu (87.5% versus 64.5%), of the respondents receiving 50% or less of their total farm income from salary/wage earning. Although the proportions of incomes from the sources of the total off—farm income did not vary between eco—zones, those proportions varied (P<0.046) between sources in the entire study area. Greater proportions of the respondents indicated that over 50% of off—farm income came from small scale local businesses (36.5% versus 23.8% for salary/wage and 17.5% for kin remittance). The proportions of the total farm income attributed to crop and livestock production did not vary between eco—zones but varied (P<0.001) between production types in the entire study area. Crop production contributed more than a half (76.2% versus 22.2%). Similarly, proportions of the respondents ranking items of total family income expenditure in terms of purchase of foodstuff, school expenses, household expenses, purchase of clothes and miscellaneous expenses did not vary between eco— zones but varied (P<0.001) between items of expenditure in the entire study area. School expenses, had the greatest proportion (74.1%) of the respondents ranking it as number one user of total family income than any other item, Clothing and household expenses had the greatest proportions of the respondents (65. 2%) and (43 . 5%), respectively ranking them as number two users of the total family income. The following global recommendations are envisioned as necessary. 1. a. Promotion of integrated research efforts to develop technologies appropriate for small holdings in rangelands should be one of the aims within the framework of policy planners and, research and social scientists. For the agricultural research, the following areas may be given emphasis: soil and water conservation; dryland farming including small-scale irrigation methods; establishment of dryland fodder and shrub species; and improved dual purpose livestock including poultry and beekeeping, to mention a few. b. Promotion of small—scale business training and management activities the benefit of the interested farmers. c. Promotion of child basic education through government and non—governmental subsidies. d. Posting by government of adequate home—economic extension workers to teach family life education since a considerable number of respondents of the study were women. Area—specific recommendations are envisioned to include the following. 2. a. Kasikeu farmers, should promote growth of fodder crops to increase milk from cows whereas Mtito—Andei farmers should grow fodder shrubs for their goats. b. Due to small land sizes, farmers in Kasi]ceu and in Mtito— Andei should consider keeping fewer but productive dual purpose cattle and goats, respectively. c. Whereas farmers in Mtito-Andei would posssibly need to form committees to protect communal water from misuse, Kasikeu farmers would need to take care of their own individual water sources. e. Promotion of the small—scale rural industries especially in Mtito-Andei ‘area which is far away from the city for the creation of jobs. 3. Further research would be necessary to asses other agro— pastoral communities not only in Makueni district but also in other sub-divided range districts of Kenya. The design of such research should have replicated eco—zone units to allow for a wider and reliable generalization of the findings. This will be possible only if research budget, personnel and logistics are well taken care of. 4. Adoption of the above recommendations should not be expected to offer lasting solutions to the problems of farmers.

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